Inside customs’ ‘Intifada warehouse’
Weapons, incitement materials, and smuggling rings occasionally make headlines in Israel, with the most recent find being thousands of dolls dressed as terrorists.
But these stories are just a few of the finds customs make every day, a top customs official revealed Wednesday – as hundreds of thousands of ammunition, weapons, and military equipment have been sitting in a secured customs warehouse for months.
The Customs Building in the port city of Ashdod houses a heavily-secured room known as the “Intifada warehouse,” director Rafi Gabai revealed to Walla! News. Within it: 50,000 knives, tens of thousands of tasers, and thousands of keffiyehs and balaclavas, camouflage uniforms, air guns, swords, clubs, knives, pocket knives, slingshots and brass knuckles, night vision systems and tools for encryption and disrupting communications. All of them were seized before they could make their way to Gaza or the Palestinian Authority (PA).
The drive to arm Arabs through smuggling began earlier this year, before the current terror wave which started three months ago.
It began with the thwarting of a huge smuggling ring of containers of fireworks and firecrackers, which were intended for Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem.
“We seized a record amount of 27 tons of firecrackers,” Gabai stated. “The counterterrorism police who helped us check the goods demanded that we vacate the area for hundreds of meters.”
“According to them, this quantity can lead to the destruction of everything in a 300-meter radius,” he added. “Anyone who had been in this circle could have been hit and killed.”
Smugglers have become sneakier over time, he added. Equipment and contraband have been found between double panels of furniture, in bags of laundry detergent, and even in bags of wheat and semolina.
“If we miss one container loaded with TNT or weapons, I do not want to imagine what might happen,” Gabai stated.
To combat the trend, customs officials have begun x-raying containers, using dogs to sniff out explosives, and working closely with intelligence officials.
Earlier this month, the Customs Authority seized materials that could be used for terrorist organizations to carry out major attacks.
“Two weeks ago we located 15 tons of a chemical […] which would serve as base material for explosives,” he said, adding that there were instructions on how to assemble bombs. “This stuff is imported to Israel in quantities of up to 20 pounds each shipment.”