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Mash'al in Sudan: Gaza weapons smuggling continues

Sept. 10, 2009 12:26 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 11, 2009 11:35 A.M.)
Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinians in Gaza are able to buy, smuggle and manufacture weapons in spite of Israel’s seiege, Hamas political chief Khalid Mash’al said on Wednesday.

Mash’al, addressing the General Conference of the youth wing of the ruling National Congress Party in Khartoum, Sudan, Mash’al said, “You did miracles in Sudan and thank God, your brothers in Palestine, despite the siege, closure, harassment, the large conspiracy and fleets of the East and West, which prevent us from bringing weapons, we were able to buy, manufacture and smuggle weapons, thank God.”

Mash’al, who lives in exile in Damascus, did not clarify the source of the alleged weapons.

Israel continues to impose a tight blockade on the Gaza Strip by land, sea and air since Hamas’ takeover of the territory in June 2007. Egypt has also kept its only crossing point with Gaza largely closed.

Smugglers, however, maintain an elaborate network of tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border, using them to import a wide range of goods, including food, fuel, cigarettes, toys, and anything else made scarce by the siege. Israel also says the tunnels are used to import weapons.

Palestinian fighters in Gaza are also known to make homemade rockets from metal pipes, fertilizer and other common materials.

While in Sudan, Mash’al and a delegation of Hamas leaders met Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and discussed efforts at reuniting Hamas with their rival the Fatah movement.

The meeting, according to Hamas sources, addressed Israeli settlements in the West Bank, relations between Sudan and Hamas, and “Israeli-American plans to liquidate the Palestinian cause.”

Fatah-affiliated Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas traveled to Khartoum to meet Al-Bashir in August, in what analysts said was an effort to build bridges with Arab states that have leverage over Hamas.

Abbas' and Mash'al’s meetings with the Sudanese leader took place despite a standing arrest warrant for Al-Bashir issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity.
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