Israeli authorities have foiled an attempt to smuggle thousands of military-grade boots labeled as slippers destined for Hamas’s military wing into Gaza.The Defense Ministry said Sunday the boots were discovered after authorities at the Kerem Shalom Crossing stopped an Israeli truck carrying a large shipment of “slippers.” According to the ministry, when security officials examined the innocent looking slippers that had emojis on them, they found professional-grade Magnum military boots in a variety of colors.“The smugglers invested effort and thought into trying to trick the inspection officers by trying to sew the slippers onto the military boots,” said Ami Shaked, director of the Kerem Shalom crossing. “I am proud of the security inspectors who acted exactly as we expect them to, from identifying the suspicious truck to touching the merchandise and identifying the attempted smuggling.
“We will continue to fight smuggling at all times to ensure that only goods that have been coordinated and approved in advance enter Gaza and that they do not assist terrorist elements,” Shaked added.The truck and all its contents were confiscated and transferred to a special joint team of the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), Israel Police, Customs and Defense Ministry’s Crossing Authority, which combats smuggling.“[This]is another attempt by the Hamas terrorist organization to abuse Israel’s policy toward the civilian residents of the Gaza Strip,” said Gaza District Coordination Office (DCO) Commander, Col. Fares Atilla. “We will continue to remain vigilant and ensure that goods are not for terrorism purposes.”Israeli authorities regularly intercept illicit goods heading for Hamas at crossings from into the Strip. In January, COGAT said it had foiled 1,226 smuggling attempts in 2016 through the Kerem Shalom crossing, an increase of 165% from the previous year.