Israeli authorities intercepted a shipment of 23 tons of chocolate bars en route to the Gaza Strip where they were to be part of a network financing Hamas military operations, The Times of Israel reported on Monday evening.
Tax Authority officials seized the merchandise as it passed from Egypt into Israel at the Nitzana border crossing, before it entered Gaza. Officials were tipped off by IDF intelligence and the Defense Ministry’s National Bureau for Counterterror Financing, a statement from the Ministry said.
According to Israeli officials, the chocolate bars were being brought into the Strip by importers working with two Gazan companies, the al-Mutahidun Currency Exchange and Arab al-Sin, that belong to the Shamlakh family and serve as Hamas fronts. Al-Mutahidun and Arab al-Sin are designated as terror organizations by Israel, which says sales of their imports in Gaza help finance Hamas’s military wing.
Israeli officials believe that Hamas has taken control of a great deal of Gaza’s import sector, including staple commodities, in its pursuit of income streams that bypass the Israeli blockade.
“Business dealings with these companies are illegal, and will lead to severe penalties against those involved,” an Israeli official told Ynet on Monday.