JERUSALEM — Israel has evidence that the Hamas regime has been ordering weapons and military equipment directly from China.
Israeli officials said the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip has sent agents to Beijing to negotiate weapons deals with state-owned Chinese companies. In 2008, they said, Chinese-origin extended-range rockets were acquired and sent to the Gaza Strip via Iran.
"We now believe that Hamas has been dealing directly with Chinese suppliers, rather than through Iran," an official said.
During the war in the Gaza Strip in early 2009, Hamas fired scores of Chinese-origin 122 mm and 170 mm rockets, with ranges of up to 40 kilometers, into Israel.
Officials said Hamas has been using agents from Europe, Israel and the West Bank to help facilitate the Chinese weapons procurement. On April 26, a Palestinian man from the West Bank city of Hebron was indicted on charges of trying to purchase weapons for Hamas.
Saadi Jamjum, a 33-year-old car dealer, was alleged to have traveled to China for Hamas in March 2009. The indictment said Jamjum was asked by a Hamas agent, identified as Raid Abu Hatlah, to purchase 60 telescopic rifle sights, 2,000 M-16 rifle magazines, 2,000 additional gun clips, 1,000 radios, 400 mobile phones and dozens of listening devices.
The indictment said the Chinese weapons were to have been shipped to the Gaza Strip via cargo registered as containing toys. To enhance the credibility of the shipment, Jamjum was ordered by Abu Hatlah, a resident of the Gaza Strip, to purchase thousands of dollars of toys from a Chinese factory.
The Chinese suppliers of the weapons allegedly ordered by Jamjum were not identified.
Officials said Hamas has sought to diversify its military suppliers in wake of the 22-day war with Israel. So far, Iran and Hizbullah have been virtually the sole suppliers to the Hamas regime