Rings bearing designs used by Islamic State and considered “banned propaganda” by Israel are now being produced locally in the Gaza Strip.
The rings, which feature an image called the “Seal of Muhammad,” made headlines in May when a shipment from Turkey was confiscated by Israeli customs en route to the West Bank.
Although it is an old symbol, the “Seal of Muhammad” in recent times has become famous due to its use on Islamic State flags and those of IS affiliates. Members and supporters of the jihadi terror organization are often seen wearing paraphernalia emblazoned with the image, which bears the traditional slogan “Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah” in reverse order.
Gaza-based jewelry manufacturer Jihad Hamami told Donia Al-Watan News, “I saw a guy in Saudi Arabia wearing a ring bearing the Prophet’s slogan and it caught my attention. I had to get one.”
Once Hamami acquired a ring, albeit with great difficulty, he posted the picture on Facebook and was surprised by the reception it garnered. After getting many messages from those interested in getting their own, he decided to open up a factory to manufacture the rings along with a business partner.
Hamami said that his new ring-making business was legitimate, with the company having the necessary licenses and authorization from the economy ministry in Gaza.
The factory has been getting many requests from West Bank traders to import the rings, he said, but currently this is not possible due to “surrounding conditions and the [Israeli] blockade.”
It is unlikely that Israel would ever allow the import of these rings into the country, or into the West Bank, as the customs authority views them as IS propaganda.
“It is frightening and terrifying to know that in the territories of the Palestinian Authority, there are supporters of this murderous organization,” an Israeli tax official told the Ynet news site in May when a shipment of the same rings was confiscated on its way from Turkey to the West Bank.
In recent months, analysts have noted a possible convergence between Islamists in the Gaza Strip and the ideologies of the Islamic State.
Israeli Channel 2 reported earlier this month that the Islamist leaders of the Gaza Strip, Hamas, hosted Shadi al-Menei, the head of IS’s Sinai affiliate. Hamas “formally opposes” Islamic State,” the TV report noted, “but in practice they are cooperating.”
The close interaction between Hamas and IS in Sinai is “one of the most carefully guarded secrets of the Hamas military wing in recent months,” The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff reported in July.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.