Shin Bet: Hamas, Islamic Jihad have 5,000 rockets
Hamas and the Islamic Jihad movements in Gaza have about 5,000 rockets, with ranges of up to 40 kilometres, Israel's internal security organization said Tuesday, dpa reported.
Most of them are self-made, but they also include dozens of technologically advanced models smuggled into the strip, which can reach the greater Tel Aviv area, said Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin.
Tel Aviv's most southern suburb of Jaffa is some 60 kilometres from Gaza's northern border.
Diskin told an Israeli parliamentary committee dealing with security and foreign affairs that he saw "no problem" in easing restrictions on the flow of goods into Gaza through Israeli border crossings, meaning apparently that would pose no unreasonable security risks.
He added that the ongoing smuggling of goods through the network of tunnels dug under Gaza's border with Egypt was endangering Israel. He also ruled out the possibility of opening Gaza's disused naval port, which he warned would pose a "huge" security breach even if international inspection were to be put in place.
"If there were a loosening of trade restriction from Israel to Gaza - no problem," Israeli media quoted Diskin as briefing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee.
"The smuggling that endangers Israeli security is coming from the tunnels in the Sinai," he said, denying again that a humanitarian crisis existed in Gaza.
The Israeli official coincidentally was speaking on the third anniversary of the Hamas take-over of the strip.
On June 15, 2007, security forces of the radical Islamist organization seized sole control of Gaza by violently overpowering those loyal to its rival, moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of the secular Fatah party.
Oxfam and other non-governmental organizations said in statements Monday ahead of the anniversary of Israel's economic embargo of Gaza, stringently tightened after the Hamas' takeover, that the Israeli restrictions on the entry of goods into the strip had kept Gaza's 1.5-million-strong civilian population "just above the bar of a humanitarian crisis," but that they were suffering "acute hardship."
An Israeli cabinet minister confirmed Tuesday that the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was restudying the blockade in its current form, and planned to ease the restrictions, in the wake of international criticism following Israel's May 31 lethal interception of six ships carrying aid and pro-Palestinian activists two Gaza.