Israel says finds explosive chemicals in EU aid bags

JERUSALEM Sat Dec 29, 2007 5:00pm EST

Israeli soldiers carry equipment near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha after operating in the Gaza Strip December 27, 2007. Israel said on Saturday it had recently seized a truck carrying chemicals used to make explosives hidden in bags marked as EU aid for the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Israeli soldiers carry equipment near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha after operating in the Gaza Strip December 27, 2007. Israel said on Saturday it had recently seized a truck carrying chemicals used to make explosives hidden in bags marked as EU aid for the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

Credit: Reuters/Amir Cohen

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel said on Saturday it had recently seized a truck carrying chemicals used to make explosives hidden in bags marked as European Union aid for the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

The army said 6.5 tonnes of potassium nitrate were in bags marked as sugar from the European Union for Palestinians in the coastal enclave.

"We are looking into this report," said an EU official in Israel. "If it is found to be accurate, this is an illegal act that should be condemned."

The cargo in a Palestinian truck was traveling in the occupied West Bank and seized several weeks ago at an Israeli checkpoint, the army said.

The European Union is the largest provider of humanitarian assistance to Gaza. Israel tightened its military and economic cordon of the Gaza Strip after Islamist Hamas seized the territory in a June war with secular Fatah.

Potassium nitrate can be used to make explosives and to power homemade rockets. It can also be used as a fertilizer.

(Writing by Avida Landau; Editing by Matthew Tostevin)

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