Hamas is using daily deliveries of humanitarian aid to Gaza to smuggle terrorists in and out of Israel, the Israel Defense Forces said.
IDF Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who is Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), said in a statement Tuesday, “Hamas is exploiting entries into Israel to recruit terrorists. This must end or we will be forced to revise our policies.”
Mordechai told Al Quds newspaper, “Unless these actions end, we will be forced to take additional security measures.
“Our policies are devised to strengthen the economy and civil life in the Gaza Strip,” he said.
2015 saw an average of 1,000 people per day crossing the border between Gaza and Israel for medical reasons, trade, and Muslim prayers in Jerusalem. In addition, 850 trucks filled with medical supplies, construction materials, and other goods were delivered daily to Gaza last year.
Hamas’s “cynical exploitation of Israeli entry permits is forcing Israel to think twice before it issues permits to Gazans.
“If these policies are misused by terrorists, we will be forced to revise them to maintain the security of the State of Israel and her citizens,” Mordechai warned. “This situation will eventually lead to the closure of the Strip and the complete cessation of travel by Gazans from the Strip.”
Mordechai cited a Gazan cancer patient who received a permit from Israel to travel to Nablus for medical care. The patient was instructed by Hamas to gather intelligence for it.
In another instance, a Gazan resident who trades in Israel was apprehended by security forces while trying to smuggle goods for Hamas.
“It appears as if Hamas is preparing itself for a military clash, and is not interested in serving the public in Gaza.
“Hamas is trying to recruit merchants, and this sabotages Israel’s economic plan [to improve the Gazan economy and life for residents of the Hamas-run territory], and the passage of Gazans for prayer [at the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem] in Israel,” Mordechai said.
Israel adopted an economic aid plan for Gaza following the ceasefire with Hamas in 2015.
Palestinians who pass through the crossings are charged taxes by Hamas. According to Mordechai, the moneys gathered are being used to build up the terror group’s offensive capabilities rather than for the welfare of Gazans.