Israel seizes tons of chocolate it claims is getting used to fund Hamas

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz signed Aug. 16 an administrative order to confiscate 23 tons of chocolate bars destined for the Gaza Strip, on suspicion of getting used as a substitute foreign money to fund Hamas. 

Gantz harassed that Israel would proceed to work to forestall Hamas’ progress, accusing it of constructing a army power as a substitute of serving the pursuits of residents that suffer from financial burdens.

“Based on suspicions, Hamas operates a wide network to finance its activities by selling basic products, including chocolate bars, to the residents of Gaza, and thus uses the revenues as economic support for its military wing in the Gaza Strip,” the Israeli Ministry of Defense mentioned in an Aug. 16 assertion.

On Aug. 17, Middle East Eye reported {that a} joint investigation by the Israeli army intelligence, the National Bureau for Counterterror Financing and the Tax Authority’s National Center for Cargo Inspection concluded that the merchandise had been headed for Gaza, and had been purportedly going to be bought by Hamas to generate earnings. 

On the opposite hand, Palestinian residents and activists mocked Israel’s confiscation of chocolate bars on social media, and expressed their discontent with the coverage pursued by Israel in coping with Gaza.

Speaking to Al-Monitor, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem denied Israel’s allegations that the tons of chocolate it confiscated belong to the motion and can serve to finance its actions in Gaza, stressing that they’re lies to justify the unjust siege imposed on the enclave.

“We deny all allegations of similar cases occurring in the past,” he added.

On one other observe, Qassem harassed that Hamas doesn’t profit in any respect from the Qatari grant cash, explaining that the Palestinian folks in Gaza profit from it, underneath the supervision of the Qatari Gaza Reconstruction Committee.

“Hamas does not seek at all to benefit from the funds of the Qatari grant,” he mentioned.

Qassem famous that Hamas — as a resistance motion that defends the rights of the Palestinian folks — has the fitting to acquire the mandatory help to proceed its authentic battle, and all nationwide forces within the area are required to help it, denying that the brand new Israeli authorities has a job in deepening Hamas’ monetary disaster or drying up its sources of funding.

Mustafa al-Sawaf, a political analyst near Hamas and former editor-in-chief of the native Felesteen newspaper, advised Al-Monitor, “If Hamas wanted to benefit from selling goods, it would not have chosen chocolate; it would have gone for a larger product to make greater profits.” He questioned about the worth of the confiscated chocolate and “what difference it would make in funding the activities of a great resistance movement.”

He defined that Hamas members are a part of the Palestinian neighborhood, and that a few of them are merchants. He mentioned that they import items for their very own profit, to not finance the motion, and that it’s not logical for them to give up their enterprise and commerce as a result of they’re affiliated with Hamas.

“Israel is trying to blackmail traders in order to incite them against Hamas,” he famous.

Speaking concerning the latest Israeli announcement to ease some restrictions on the Gaza Strip, which coincided with the confiscation of the chocolate bars, Sawaf mentioned that it’s not a contradiction. He defined that Israel doesn’t need to tighten the grip on Gaza fully for fear of the scenario imploding and resulting in a brand new escalation. “It also does not want to ease restrictions too much and end up facing internal criticism,” he added.

Sawaf expects that the Qatari grant can be launched steadily, ruling out the Israeli rumors concerning the salaries of Gaza authorities staff being deducted from the grant.

Talal Okal, a political analyst and author for the Palestinian Al-Ayyam newspaper, advised Al-Monitor, “Everyone knows that Hamas benefits from imported goods through taxes it imposes on merchants, as it is the government that runs Gaza.” 

He believes it’s unreasonable to confiscate chocolate bars underneath the pretext that they’re an oblique supply to finance Hamas; one other commodity would have made extra sense.

He harassed that Hamas in Gaza is underneath strain from a number of events, particularly from the United States, that need to reach a whole peace equation and neutralize the resistance’s weapons, in trade for financial restoration, which Hamas strongly rejects.

Okal famous that the brand new Israeli authorities is making an attempt to hyperlink the Gaza reconstruction and the opening of the crossings to the return of its troopers detained in Gaza (which Israel believes had been killed).

He added, “The Israeli government is trying to put on a show for the Israeli people, helped by the US administration, which does not want this government to fail — especially since it came after four electoral rounds.”

Okal identified that Hamas’ monetary disaster is tied to the financial disaster plaguing the folks of Gaza, with greater than half of the inhabitants living beneath the poverty line.

Mouin Rajab, a professor of financial sciences at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, advised Al-Monitor, “This Israeli policy is completely unjustified and negatively affects the economic situation in Gaza. It directly affects importers who will now endure huge losses and will cause a large deficit in the markets.”

He added, “The turmoil caused by this policy makes importers anxious, as they fear that their other goods will be confiscated in the future.”

Rajab defined that this coverage is a blow to the import course of and Palestinian commerce, stressing that it will increase the struggling of the Gazan client and will increase the costs of comparable items as a result of shortage of provides, along with having many different damaging financial repercussions.

Speaking concerning the Gaza authorities’s skill to help chocolate retailers, Rajab defined that the federal government’s function is restricted and weak because of its lack of management over the crossings. But, he mentioned, the federal government could resort to the same coverage by stopping Israeli items from coming into the Gaza Strip.

Rajab additional referred to as for the necessity to move towards self-sufficiency in most items and merchandise.

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