Monday, Jan. 26th 2009

How the IRGC Routes Weapons to Gaza

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) uses two routes to supply its weapons to Hamas in Gaza, according to Times Online. Uzi Mahnaimi writes that the IRGC appears to be using two methods of smuggling weapons into Gaza that have been used since Iran supplied weapons to Yasser Arafat.

[T]he Iranians are attempting to smuggle munitions from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, where the arms shipments are loaded onto commercial vessels. . . .

once in the Red Sea the cargo is taken on one of two routes. The first is to dock in Somalia and Sudan, where professional smugglers carry the cargo overland to Sinai. In Sinai, Bedouin specialists smuggle the shipment into Gaza through the notorious border tunnels.

Despite intensive Israeli bombing, some tunnels remain open. Palestinian sources in Rafah, the Gaza Strip’s southern town, estimate that 100 tunnels are still in action, about 20% of the pre-war total.

A second arms smuggling route into Gaza has also been used by Tehran, according to well briefed sources. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard has sent shipments through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean to anchor off the Gaza coast, inside Egyptian territorial waters, where the Israeli navy is barred.

After dark, Iranian frogmen transfer weapons in sealed containers to Palestinian fishing boats. This can prove dangerous as the Israeli navy may open fire without warning, but according to the sources it has worked well in the past.

Analysis: Note the tunnel infrastructure available to Hamas — according to the article about 100 tunnels are still active out of approximately 500 tunnels that were open before the recent Israeli military action in Gaza. Also, the Times Online article reports that a U.S. Navy warship boarded a freighter for inspection and found weapons during its search. U.S. forces have a more active role in monitoring and deterring Iran’s supply of weapons to Hamas than is widely reported in the U.S. media.

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