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May 3, 9:54 AM EDT

Israel finds explosives chemical in salt destined to Gaza

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AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed

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JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel said Tuesday that customs officials thwarted a plot to smuggle explosive materials into the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

Israel's Tax Authority said inspectors uncovered four tons of ammonium chloride- enough to produce hundreds of rockets- hidden inside sacks of salt about two weeks ago as the shipment was being transferred to Gaza.

"This case underscores the activity of Gaza-based terrorist organizations in smuggling dual-use materials disguised as goods destined for the civilian population and reconstruction projects," it said.

Along with explosives, ammonium chloride can also be used in fertilizer and other products.

Israel's Shin Bet security service became suspicious after unusually large quantities of salt were ordered by a Gaza importer with ties to the Islamic militant group Hamas, the tax authority said.

Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza in 2007 after Hamas seized power from forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Humanitarian aid and goods enter Gaza via Israeli crossings. Other goods are smuggled in through tunnels from neighboring Egypt.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Israeli military demolished the home of a Palestinian attacker who gunned down two Israelis in front of their children last year.

Ziad Amer, the father of suspected killer Zeid, said Israeli troops in dozens of army vehicles raided the town of Nablus and demolished the family's apartment. He said his appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court against the demolition was rejected.

The military says Amer was part of a five-member Hamas cell that shot and killed U.S. citizen Eitam Henkin and his wife Naama as they drove in the northern West Bank on Oct. 1. Their four young children in the back of the car escaped unharmed.

Israel says it carries out housing demolitions to deter attacks. The Palestinians consider it to be a form of collective punishment.

Since mid-September, Palestinians have carried out dozens of assaults on civilians and security forces, killing 28 Israelis and two Americans. Some 200 Palestinians have been killed over the same time, the vast majority in what Israel says have been attacks or attempted attacks.

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