Israel’s Ministry of Defense announced on Monday that it confiscated 30 wetsuits camouflaged as sportswear that were believed to be destined for Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Similar to an incident last year, the wetsuits were on their way to the Hamas-ruled enclave when they were intercepted at the Kerem Shalom border crossing.
“The shipment was seized and an investigation has been opened to locate those involved,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Because wetsuits could be used by Hamas for its naval commandos, like those who attempted to infiltrate Israel on the second day of Operation Protective Edge in July 2014, they require special licenses to be shipped into Gaza.
כ-30 חליפות צלילה מקצועיות, שיועדו על-פי החשד לגורמי טרור וברצועת עזה ובהם ל'קומנדו הימי' של חמאס pic.twitter.com/jDtuy5Ts2d
— משרד הביטחון (@MoDIsrael) April 3, 2017
The discovery of the wetsuits comes as Israel is increasingly concerned that Hamas is planning to launch attacks by sea.
“Hamas is making serious developments in the underwater domain,” Idor Shtatar, the commander of the Ashdod Observation Company, told the Times of Israel earlier this week, though he did not specify weapons or tactics. Shtatar’s troops employ “advanced optical cameras and radar” and monitor boats entering and exiting Ashdod port, as well as Israel’s commercial shipping lanes, to guard against possible terror attacks. The company is charged with monitoring Hamas’ naval efforts.
As part of its lawful blockade of Gaza to prevent weapons from being smuggled into the Hamas-ruled territory, Israel has imposed a six-mile limit on Gazan fishing boats. Israel extended the limit last year during the spring fishing season and intends to do so again this year. Extending the limit in the fall was also considered, but the Shin Bet accused Hamas of abusing the leeway to smuggle weapons.
In the north, Israel is also preparing to thwart any attempts by Hezbollah to launch terror attacks by sea.
[Photo: Times of Israel / YouTube ]