Israel is increasingly scrutinizing packages headed through the post to the Gaza Strip, concerned that seemingly innocuous items are intended for military use against the Jewish state, according to a report Saturday.
The Ynet news site said 1,600 items bought via online retail sites were confiscated over the past year on their way to the Strip.
The so-called dual-use products, so named for their potential military applications, include drones that can be used for intelligence-gathering; hidden cameras that can be planted on the border fence; encrypted two-way radios, diving equipment, laser pointers, night-vision equipment, masks, helmets, antennas, military-style shoes and more.
Orders intended for Gaza are shipped to Israel before being transferred to the Strip. Suspect items are tagged and inspected by the Civil Administration, the body which implements Israeli civil policy in the Palestinian territories, and any dual-use items are seized.
“We inform the recipient that his package was confiscated and sent for liquidation,” Second Lieutenant Sahar Weiss, an officer at the Erez border crossing, told Ynet. “Gazans whose delivery has been seized can file an appeal.”
Israel has maintained a blockade of the Gaza Strip since the Hamas terror group took over the territory in 2007, and says it is necessary to prevent arms from entering Gaza that could be used in attacks against it. Egypt has kept its border with the Strip shut as well. Israel regularly allows screened goods to enter Gaza through its border crossings.
Under a fragile ceasefire brokered by Egyptian and UN officials following a severe flareup in May, Israel is meant to ease aspects of its blockade on the Strip in exchange for relative calm. Israel has recently allowed Qatar to distribute small cash grants to impoverished Palestinian families.
Throughout the past year and a half, the two sides have fought several bouts — with terror groups indiscriminately firing mortar shells, rockets and missiles at Israeli cities and towns, and the IDF retaliating with airstrikes — often sparked by smaller incidents along the border. There has also been weekly border rioting during the period and incendiary devices launched from Gaza have ignited hundreds of fires in southern Israel, devastating the area’s parklands, wildlife and agriculture.
Fifty-three percent of Palestinians in Gaza live in poverty, a June 2018 United Nations report said. Eighty percent depend on international aid, according to the UN Relief and Works Agency, the main international organization that provides health, education and other services to Palestinian refugees.
Hamas, which seize control of Gaza in 2007 from the Fatah faction of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, openly seeks to destroy Israel.