Israeli customs agents in collaboration with Shabak foiled a Hamas attempt to smuggle four tons of ammonium chloride hidden in a shipment of salt before the Passover holiday, Israel announced on Tuesday. Ammonium chloride is used in hair shampoo, in the glue that bonds plywood, and in cleaning products, but as ammonium perchlorate composite propellant (APCP) it is typically used in aerospace propulsion applications, including in building rockets in Gaza intended hit civilian populations inside Israel. According to the announcement, the amount seized could be used to manufacture hundreds of long-range rockets.
About a week before the holiday, a special shipment of 40 tons of salt arrived at the Nitzana crossing which is used for moving goods from Egypt to Israel, the PA and the Gaza Strip.
The unusually large amount of salt being transferred raised a red flag.
A thorough examination by the Nitzana customs agents revealed that some of the bags of salt were actually ammonium chloride weighing 4 tons altogether. Ammonium chloride is a dual-use substance requiring an import license, because of its potential use by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in manufacturing long-range rockets.
Recently, the Shabak has noted a vast increase in salt shipments to Gaza, and soon figured out it was being used to conceal smuggled illegal chemicals. In the reported case, Shabak believes the importer, a Gaza resident, was indeed seeking to provide the chemical to the Hamas, under the guise of merchandise intended for the civilian population and rehabilitation projects.
To date, the collaboration between the customs service and Shabak has led to the thwarting of dozens of smuggling attempts that included shipments of sulfuric acid, diving Suits, polyurethane propellant for rockets, sulfur rods, fiberglass rolls, and a special coal used to fuel iron furnaces for processing metals.