Security officials and officials of the Israel Tax Authority revealed Tuesday that they had foiled an attempt to smuggle four tons of ammonium chloride – hidden in a shipment of salt – into the Gaza Strip. Ammonium chloride is used in the production of long-range rockets; four tons would have enabled the manufacture of hundreds of such rockets.
The failed smuggling operation took place a week before Pesach, when a shipment – purportedly containing 40 tons of salt – destined for Gaza reached the Nitzana Crossing, which is used for the transfer of goods between Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. A comprehensive inspection by customs personnel revealed that sacks of ammonium chloride, amounting to four tons of the material, were hidden within the salt. Ammonium chloride is defined as a dual-use substance and its passage into the Gaza Strip requires a permit since it is liable to be used by Gaza-based terrorist organizations – such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad – in the production of long-range rockets.
In recent months, orders for salt in Gaza have skyrocketed – leading the Shin Bet to suspect that the imports were being used for something other than salt. Salt shipments have been used in the past to smuggle in chemicals for use in manufacturing facilities in the Strip, especially the manufacture of rockets.
This case underscores the activity of Gaza-based terrorist organizations in smuggling dual-use materials disguised as goods destined for the civilian population and reconstruction projects, the Shin Bet noted in a statement.
According to the statement, “the security establishment and the Israel Tax Authority customs view the incident with utmost gravity. It is our intention to continue to locate and thwart attempts to smuggle in dual-use materials and deal with those involved to the fullest extent of the law. It should be noted that cooperation between customs authorities, especially personnel at the land crossings, and the Shin Bet has led to the foiling of dozens of attempts to smuggle items and materials that are prohibited from importation into the Gaza Strip – such as sulfuric acid, diving suits, rocket propulsion fuel components, polyurethane, sulfur, fiberglass rolls and especially coarse coal for use in iron smelters and metalwork – and which are suspected of being for use by local terrorist organizations.”