CBNNews.com - GAZA STRIP - According to senior Israeli defense officials, Iran has increased efforts recently to smuggle weaponry into the Gaza Strip from the sea.
Iranian vessels drop the contraband into the sea in sealed tubes, where it's picked up and delivered to shore by Palestinian fisherman.
While not a new tactic, the volume is increasing. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officials estimate that thousands of Iranian-made mortar shells have been smuggled into Gaza in recent weeks.
"They throw the weapons overboard in waterproof, sealed tubes, which then float into the Gaza waters and are picked up by fisherman," one defense official told The Jerusalem Post. "Sometimes [Israeli] navy boats intercept them and sometimes they get through," he said.
According to the official, the IDF noted a marked increase in Iranian-made weapons, especially rockets and mortar shells.
Palestinians are firing two different mortar shells: a 120-mm shell with a six-mile range -- and a 120-mm shell with a range slightly less than four miles.
Weapons too big to be smuggled through tunnels are being dropped off at sea.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists are also being trained in Iran. The January breaching of the border with Egypt at the Rafah crossing allowed hundreds of Palestinians to head for Iran for training.
Defense department officials said weapons smuggling into the Strip occurs one of three ways: by boat from Iran to Egypt where the payload is either delivered through a tunnel or dropped off the coast, or via Syria to Lebanon, where Hezbollah transports the weapons by ship to Egypt.
According to defense officials, the Quds (Jerusalem) Force, an offshoot of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, is responsible for training and arming Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorists.
Source: The Jerusalem Post