Customs Inspectors and ISA Personnel at Nitzana Crossing Foil Attempt to Smuggle Four Tons of Ammonium Chloride Hidden in Salt Shipment
The following was cleared for publication this morning16):
Customs inspectors at the Nitzana Crossing, in cooperation with the ISA, prior to the Passover holiday, foiled an attempt to smuggle four tons of ammonium chloride – hidden in a shipment of salt – into the Gaza Strip. Ammonium chloride is used in the production of long-range rockets; four tons would have enabled the manufacture of hundreds of such rockets.
Approximately one week before the holiday, a shipment – purportedly containing 40 tons of salt – destined for Gaza reached the Nitzana Crossing, which is used for the transfer of goods between Egypt and Israel and the Palestinian Authority. A comprehensive inspection by customs personnel revealed that sacks of ammonium chloride were hidden within the salt. The sacks were found to weigh four tons. Ammonium chloride is defined as a dual use substance and its passage into the Gaza Strip requires a permit since it is liable to be used by Gaza-based terrorist organizations – such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad – in the production of long-range rockets. The ISA became suspicious that, given the large quantity of salt that had been ordered for the Gaza Strip, salt shipments were being used to smuggle in chemicals for use in manufacturing facilities in the Strip, especially the manufacture of rockets.
The ISA suspects that in this smuggling attempt the importer, a resident of the Gaza Strip with ties to the Hamas military wing, sought to bring the material into the Strip for use in Hamas' production facilities. 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.
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 ISA 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.
Photos courtesy of the Israel Tax Authority