TEL AVIV – Four tons of ammonium chloride used in long-range rockets was discovered by Israeli authorities in bags of salt headed for Gaza, Ynet news reported.
The smuggled chemical, which is used as rocket propellant, was found by customs officials in cooperation with Israel’s Shin Bet security agency at the Nitsana border crossing between Egypt and Israel.
According to the report, the ammonium chloride, which was buried in 40 tons of salt bound for the Gaza Strip, was enough to produce propellant for hundreds of long-range rockets.
The Gazan salt importer is known to Israeli authorities for having close ties to Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. The volume of salt being imported raised the Shin Bet’s suspicions, especially in light of the fact that salt is often used to transport chemicals intended for rocket production.
“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,” a statement by the Israel Tax Authority said.
The security establishment and the Israel Tax Authority customs view the incident with utmost gravity. It is their 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 specially coarse coal for use in iron smelters and metalwork – and which are suspected of being for use by local terrorist organizations.