Through the Wire

Hamas Polices Seas as Tunnel Smuggling Suffers

November 11, 2013
| Security
| Middle East and North Africa

GAZA, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Hamas marine forces in Gaza foiled an attempt by residents to smuggle a car from Egypt on Monday, a police spokesman said, signalling a new area of illicit trade as the Egyptian army cracks down on border tunnels.

The case showed the new lengths local smugglers will go to bring goods to market despite years of an Israeli blockade and sour relations between Egypt's military-backed government and the Islamist group that runs Gaza.

Two Gazan smugglers carried the car, a dismantled Hyundai Sonata, on a fishing boat and sailed through the coastal enclave's waters before being intercepted by coastal forces, Gaza police spokesman Ayoub Abu Sha'ar said.

The two smugglers tried to jettison their cargo, sped away from their pursuers and eventually jumped ship. They were rescued and detained by police divers who spent 10 hours bringing the car parts to the shore.

"We will maintain our borders and any attempt by any people to violate will be followed up and chased," Abu Sha'ar said.

Since the overthrow of Egypt's elected Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July, Egyptian security forces have sealed and destroyed most of the 1,200 tunnels that used to bring food, cars and weapons into Gaza.

Hamas largely condoned and had oversight over cross-border tunnel smuggling.

Bringing in cars through the tunnels was a semi-legal trade as they were legally bought from Egyptian companies, carried on trucks and then driven into Gaza.

The car being smuggled in by sea may have been stolen, not purchased. Hamas has said it would not allow smuggling by sea.

Hamas officials said Egypt's closure of tunnels had caused a severe economic crisis in Gaza, home to 1.8 million people, slowed construction, caused sharp fuel and power shortages and led to hike in prices.

Relations between Hamas and Egypt's new rulers have been tense. Cairo accuses the Islamist faction of meddling in its affairs on behalf of Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood movement, an ally of Hamas - an allegation Hamas rejects.

Israel allows car imports into Gaza but at higher prices and often with daunting bureaucratic hurdles it attributes to security concerns.

An Israeli military spokesman said smuggling by sea had increased recently and Israel was determined to prevent the movement of weapons.

Login or Create New Account
Email Address:
New to LIGNET? Create New Account
GET FREE Intelligence Reports

LIGNET provides you with actionable intelligence and in-depth analyses from seasoned insiders including senior CIA officials, presidential advisors, ambassadors, and more.

Sign Up for
FREE Intelligence Reports!
Join Now
Already have an account?
Click here to log in.

Join Now
Knowledge is Power
Only if You Access it!
Upgrade to a full access account and get the official CIA World Fact Book 2014 FREE!
Upgrade Now
FREE CIA World Factbook 2013
What is LIGNET?
Powered by Newsmax
LIGNET is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Langley Intelligence Group Network is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.