Some 4,000 plush toys of rock-throwing men dressed in Palestinian garb were intercepted Tuesday at the Haifa port by Israeli authorities, who said the dolls were headed for the Palestinian Authority and were part of an incitement campaign.
Each toy has its face hidden by a keffiyah, with one arm raised and clutching a tiny toy rock. They hold banners in Palestinian colors proclaiming “Jerusalem is ours” and “Jerusalem we are coming.”
Customs officials found the dolls in a container that arrived from the United Arab Emirates and destined for the Palestinian Authority. According to the accompanying paperwork, the shipment was supposed to be clothing, rugs, and plastic products.
After being unloaded, the container was sent for inspection at a customs depot, where inspectors found the dolls along with bulbs and soles for military boots.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said in a statement that the dolls were “on their way to the Palestinian Authority with one clear intention, to poison the minds of innocent young children.”
“The Palestinians continue to indoctrinate their children, continue to educate them in hatred and violence, using all possible means, including, as in this case, children’s dolls,” she said in a statement.
The shipment was being held at the port until the end of an investigation into the matter, Israeli media reported.
“The customs authority continues its daily work in preventing smuggling, with a focus on smuggling weapons and preventing the infiltration of inciting material, especially at this time,” said Kobi Yahav, the director of customs at Haifa port.
Israeli officials have repeatedly claimed that a recent wave of almost daily Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis has been spurred by incitement in social and traditional media.
In particular, rumors that Israeli intends to change the status quo on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem have sparked outrage among Palestinians, leading to violent riots at the site that is holy to both Jews and Muslims. Israel has denied it has any plans to change arrangements at the site, where Jews are allowed to visit but not pray.
As well as stabbings, car-rammings, and shootings, there have been numerous incidents of Palestinians throwing rocks at Israeli cars in the West Bank and targeting the capital’s light rail as it passes through East Jerusalem neighborhoods.