Weapons are smuggled into Gaza with relative ease by arms merchants who live in the Sinai Peninsula, an Israeli police source said last week.
While Sinai had been relatively quiet during the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, his downfall last year basically spelled trouble for Israelis living close to that border especially with the new Islamist government taking over the military, said the police source.
The Israeli National Police has warned that the scope of weapons smuggling to the Gaza Strip by terrorist organizations is expanding. This troubling information increases the fear of many in Israel that the current uprisings and unrest in Egypt and Syria increase the likelihood that groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists, who now rule Eqypt, as well as the Lebanon-based Hezbollah will increase the volatility within the Gaza Strip.
Due to the recent change in government, Egypt exerts little authority over the Sinai Peninsula, which allows smugglers to operate without any interference, the police source stated.
According to the an Israeli Security Agency report, weapons smuggling to Gaza by the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations has increased since Operation Cast Lead more than two years ago, as those groups have sought "quality" weapons to improve their capabilities to strike the Israeli home front and fight against IDF troops in a future conflict.
The ISA report notes that Iran stands behind the armament effort as that country seeks to increase its influence amongst Palestinians and Palestinian terrorist groups.
The central smuggling route to Gaza is based on the transfer of weapons from Iran to Sudan, from where the weapons are moved into Egypt before being smuggled into Gaza. Because Egypt's government remains in a state of flux, weapons smugglers are finding it easier to move contraband from Egypt into the Palestinian territories.
According to the ISA, hundreds of rockets (mostly with ranges of 20-40 kilometers), about 1,000 mortar shells, dozens of individual anti-tank missiles and tons of explosives and explosives-making materials have been smuggled via this route.
In the Sinai Peninsula, a smuggling network exists that is comprised mainly of Bedouins whose main source of income is from smuggling and kidnapping-for-ransom, the report stated.
According to the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) officials, smugglers in the Sinai Peninsula are operating with little interference since the change of government in Egypt is still uncertain.
Jim Kouri, CPP, is founder and CEO of Kouri Associates, a homeland security, public safety and political consulting firm. He's formerly Fifth Vice-President, now a Board Member of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, an editor for ConservativeBase.com, and he's a columnist for Examiner.com. In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com) and editor of Conservative Base Magazine (www.conservativebase.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.
He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at St. Peter's University and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country.
He holds a bachelor of science in Criminal Justice from Southwest University and SCI Technical School in New York City and completed training at the NYC Police Academy, FBI Continuing Education Program, and the Certified Protection Professional (CPP) of the American Society for Industrial Security.
Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc.
To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.