Israeli Arab, Palestinian Charged With Smuggling Banned Materials Into Gaza

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A gas tanker approaching the Kerem Shalom crossing into the Gaza Strip, from Israel. The transport of certain types of construction-related goods into the Strip is illegal.
A gas tanker approaching the Kerem Shalom crossing into the Gaza Strip, from Israel. Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

On Monday the Be'er Sheva District Court indicted Zaid Mohammed Kamel Khatar, a Palestinian resident of the Gaza Strip, and Araef Ahmed Salam Talalka from the southern city of Rahat, for attempting to smuggle coils of welding wires into Gaza. Bringing such materials into the Strip is prohibited for security reasons. Khatar is also accused of successfully smuggling in various construction-related materials before, without the help of Talalka.

The charge sheet states that Khatar has, in the past, legally bought items in Israel including electrical equipment, shoes, clothing and toys, and brought them into Gaza. However, on a number of occasions, in addition to the legal goods, he allegedly brought in other items illegally – in this case, welding wires and cables, which are considered dual-use products that can be used for both legitimate purposes as well as for other uses, such as building underground tunnels and rockets. The transfer of such dual-use goods is under the strict supervision of Israeli security authorities and a permit is needed to transfer them to Gaza or areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

Khatar is charged with hiding the coils between the pallets of the goods he was bringing in legally, for which he had received the proper permits. He removed the illegal goods from the bills of lading that he presented at the Kerem Shalom crossing at the border of the Strip, from which he moved the shipment into Gaza.

The court charged Talalka, a driver, with transporting Khatar to various places in Israel to pick up his goods. On November 1, the driver allegedly took him to Holon where he bought 40 coils of welding wires and cables. From there they drove to the town of Rishpon, a Jewish town in the center of the country, where they met a truck driver who transported the goods to Gaza. Talalka is accused of helping Khatar to conceal the illegal materials along with the other goods.

After the owners of the warehouse in Rishpon noticed the men hiding the banned materials, they told them to remove them, which Khatar and Talalka apparently did. But after the vehicle left the warehouse with the legal goods and made a stop on the way, the two men – apparently without the truck driver’s knowledge – inserted the illegal items inside the pallets containing the legal goods. The warehouse workers called the truck driver and told him about the illegal materials and when he reached the Kerem Shalom crossing, he informed the Israeli security authorities there.

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