Arms smuggling up in Gaza

TEL AVIV, Israel, June 6 (UPI) -- The head of Israel's internal security service says weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip from Egypt has increased dramatically since disengagement.

Yuval Diskin, speaking Tuesday in a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said contraband included 11 tons of explosives, more than 3 million bullets, 430 rocket propelled grenades and 10 shoulder-fired missiles.


At least 10,000 assault rifles and 1,600 pistols had also been smuggled across from the Sinai, media reports quoted the Shin Bet chief.

Israel, as part of a unilateral security and peace move by then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, evacuated Jewish settlements in the Gaza and withdrew its troops in September, 2005.

The Jewish state's current prime minister, Ehud Olmert, is eyeing a similar withdrawal -- but with the significant difference of keeping key population centers -- from the West Bank if peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority based on U.S. President George W. Bush's "roadmap" fail to restart soon.

That plan - featuring a two-state settlement - has stagnated since the Palestinian election earlier in which the radical Hamas group gained political dominance of the Palestinian legislature.

Diskin said Tuesday there was no evidence that what he called "world jihadist" cells had taken root in the Gaza Strip. But Egypt's inability to eliminate those cells in the Sinai had made the peninsula fertile ground for arms smugglers

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