Middle East Eye / August 17, 2021
Users on social media mock ‘cartoon villains stealing candy’, as Israeli officials link confectionary sales to terrorism.
Israel’s decision to confiscate 23 tons of chocolate bars headed towards Gaza on the grounds that they were being used to fund Hamas military operations has sparked ridicule online.
Security officials intercepted a shipment of the confectionery as it passed from Egypt into Israel at the Nitzana border crossing, according to a report on Monday in the Times of Israel.
A joint investigation by Israeli military intelligence, the National Bureau for Counterterror financing, and the Tax Authority’s National Center for Cargo Inspection concluded that the products were headed for Gaza, and were purportedly going to be sold by Hamas to generate income.
The probe linked the chocolate bars to two companies in Gaza, the Al-Mutahidun Currency Exchange and Arab al-Sin, which Israel has designated as terror organizations based on alleged financing of Hamas.
Israeli officials told reporters that they were able to seize the chocolate bars as a result of a confiscation order signed by Defence Minister Benny Gantz.
“Israel will continue acting to prevent the empowerment of Hamas, who is building up military force instead of taking care of the people of the [Gaza] Strip who are collapsing from the economic burden,” Gantz said.
“We will continue to hunt down networks that fund terror, no matter what method they choose.”
‘Cartoon villain stealing candy’
Many social media users mocked the allegation that Hamas was being funded by the sale of chocolates.
“Ah yes, Hamas’s notorious funding source which is also used by high school clubs and little league baseball teams,” one user joked.
Another user reacted by posting the green and white Hamas flag, next to the official logo for the Girls Scouts of the USA, which uses the same colours.
James Zogby, founder of the Arab American Institute, said that the confiscation showed that Israel controlled Gaza “like prison guards control a prison”, contrary to Israeli claims that it does not occupy the enclave.
“Israel seized the chocolate saying it was intended for Hamas funding and because Hamas is a terrorist group, they have a right to cut off funding,” he wrote.
“But Israel, too, is guilty of war crimes against Palestinian civilians – killing thousands over the years, with impunity.
“Israel screams bloody murder on antisemitism when anyone boycotts them and US has laws penalizing anyone who does. Meanwhile, Israel imposes all sorts of sanctions and boycotts on Palestinians and they get rewarded by Congress with billions. Is there justice here?”
The two million Palestinians living in Gaza have faced a tightening of Israeli restrictions on the entry of goods into the besieged enclave in recent months, causing a major economic recession.
The restrictions are thought to be linked to Israel’s efforts to pressure Hamas into releasing four Israelis, two of whom are dead, who are believed to be held in Gaza.
Last week, Palestinian business owners told MEE that they were resorting to laying off workers in order to stay afloat, following the destruction from the most recent Israeli attacks in May.
Some 1,500 economic establishments in Gaza were estimated to have been destroyed or damaged during the Israeli bombing campaign, with officials stating that it resulted in $479m worth of losses.
Rayhan Uddin is a Middle East Eye journalist based in London