Arms still tunnelled into Gaza

Palestinians work on constructing new, and repairing old, smuggling tunnels, damaged during the Israeli military operation in Gaza

Palestinians work on constructing new, and repairing old, smuggling tunnels, damaged during the Israeli military operation in Gaza

Explosives are still being smuggled into Gaza, despite Operation Cast Lead and the international coalition set up to stop the flow of weapons.

Israeli intelligence reports have revealed that, since the end of the operation, 22 tons of explosives, 45 tons of explosive-making materials and hundreds of missiles and mortar bombs have been smuggled into Gaza through the tunnel beneath the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

This has been happening despite the efforts of eight Nato members, including the UK, who have set up a coalition to fight the smuggling.

General Security Service (GSS) Chief, Yuval Diskin, reported these findings in a cabinet meeting on Sunday. During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) repeatedly bombed the tunnels under the Philadelphia Corridor, but about 40 per cent of them were left intact.

Furthermore, Palestinians have been working hard to repair old tunnels and construct new ones.

However, IAF Commander Major General Ido Nehushtan has called the tunnels “just the nozzle at the end of toothpaste tube”.

Reports last week on the IAF attacks on arms convoys in the Sudan en route to Gaza demonstrated how Israel has targeted the entire smuggling route.

Another report published this month by the Washington Institute and co-authored by the former GSS deputy chief, Yoram Cohen, lambasts Egypt for failing to halt smuggling from the Sudanese border to the Sinai desert and Gaza.

“There is no evidence that Egyptian forces are taking steps to arrest and punish smugglers,” says the report, which claims that even when the Egyptians do uncover a tunnel, they rarely demolish it.

A senior IDF officer said last week: “We haven’t managed to shut down the tunnels, but our actions have at least focused the world’s attention on the situation.”

Last updated: 11:54am, April 2 2009