Security forces prevented weapon-making materials from being smuggled into the Gaza by sea for the sake of Hamas's "military wing," the Al-Qassam Brigades, the Israel Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet) revealed Wednesday.
Naval forces detained a vessel on its way from Sinai into Gaza, as well as three Gazans onboard, in mid-January, the ISA said. The craft had left from the Sinai region.
During interrogation, the three confessed to the Shin Bet that the materials – including liquid fiberglass – were being smuggled as part of an ongoing effort to restock the Al-Qassam Brigades' arsenal.
The Hamas military wing is heavily involved in maritime smuggling, the investigation revealed – and it also smuggle civilian goods for sale within Gaza, then pockets profits. The smuggling has intensified since Egypt closed its border crossings with Gaza and began destroying terror tunnels.
Charges have been filed against the three perpetrators in the Be'er Sheva District Court.
Following the end of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in August, Israel has allowed Arab fishermen to venture six nautical miles (about 9.5 km) from the Gaza shore – and has prompted a "marine intifada" of sorts.
As fisherman continue to complain over restraints on their movement – designed to prevent terrorism and to separate Hamas from its weapons suppliers – IDF officials raised concerns in October that they may be systematically creeping towards the Israeli shore.
Several incidents since then have been reported, including at least one other smuggling incident.