COGAT Cracks Down on Gaza Smuggling

YERUSHALAYIM -

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has instructed Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the head of COGAT, which administers governmental activities in the Palestinian territories, to crack down on the smuggling of items that can be put to military use.

Accordingly, COGAT notified a telecommunications company that it has been cited for trying to smuggle cables and optical fibers into Gaza, on suspicion of transfer to Hamas. The violation will cost them a fine of several hundred thousand shekels, the defense body said.

Until now, truck drivers caught trying to smuggle contraband items into Gaza were released with a warning after their cargo was confiscated, and no punishments were imposed. However, as it became clear that rather than ceasing the illegal traffic, smugglers were merely employing new ruses to get past the authorities, it was decided to impose sanctions, taking a tougher line with all those involved, from the company owners down to the field operatives. Drivers or owners of vehicles carrying contraband will have their vehicles impounded. Fines of up to a million shekels will be imposed for smuggling.

COGAT also said on Thursday that it banned used auto parts for four-by-four vehicles from entering the Gaza Strip after several attempts to send them to Gaza for Hamas.