Most of the tweets posted by COGAT, the bureaucratic arm of Israel’s military occupation, are frankly ridiculous.
Their Twitter posts attempt to portray Israeli soldiers controlling the movement of millions of Palestinians as benevolent humanitarians providing accommodation to travelers:A video recently tweeted by COGAT features a soldier belonging to the Druze religious minority describing the segregated H2 area of Hebron, site of the infamous Ibrahimi mosque massacre, as a bastion of coexistence: Most of COGAT’s bland English-language tweets disappear into the Internet ether, lacking resonance, sophistication and quality. Crude propaganda and outright threats undermine the humanitarian image the military body is trying to project.
Wave of mockery
But last week, two of COGAT’s tweets unleashed a wave of mockery.
One of the tweets features a photo of a man holding three lace-up hiking boots. COGAT states that the shoes “were hidden in a shipment of civilian goods, in an attempt to smuggle them into Gaza for terrorist purposes”:The other tweet shows the shoes on the ground in front of boxes and a shipping palette.
“This is another miserable and failed attempt by terrorist groups in Gaza to hide behind the civilian population, without taking into account how it endangers the economy and trade,” COGAT states.
“The more these attempts continue, the more security and stability are compromised.”
The tweets received dozens of likes and retweets, but some 1,300 replies – they were thoroughly ratioed:Even those sympathetic to Israel’s rationale for preventing the import of a litany of goods into Gaza found it hard to swallow: Some Twitter users noted that the boots appeared to be sized for youths: Some responses riffed on the idea that sturdy boots could undermine security and stability: Others joked that a fashion crime was thwarted by one of the world’s most powerful militaries: COGAT and other Israeli military authorities lack any sense of irony or self-awareness.
Palestinians have no state and no army. Israel possesses nuclear weapons but wants people to believe that hiking shoes pose a threat to its security.
Unless those boots are outfitted with spyware to be used against Palestinians.
Earlier this year, Palestinian factions in Gaza accused Israel of embedding tracking devices in shoes imported into Gaza.
One response to COGAT noted that the same army that confiscates shoes allows soldiers to shoot at the legs of unarmed protesters in Gaza, inflicting injuries requiring amputation:But as many noted – this writer included – COGAT’s propaganda fail demonstrates the profound control it has over the lives of Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation: Israel’s import restrictions – imposed on both the West Bank and Gaza, but the latter more severely – have been disastrous for the Palestinian economy.
Israel’s long list of “dual-use” items – goods that may have military purposes – goes far beyond guidelines established in international treaties.
For Gaza, it includes communications and medical equipment, as well as spare parts, preventing Palestinian manufacturers from repairing and maintaining assembly lines.
The dual-use list is also arbitrary. A good successfully imported by a trader one month may be deemed “dual-use” by Israel later on.
Access to “dual-use” items requires authorization by COGAT, in what the World Bank characterizes as “a long, nontransparent and unpredictable bureaucratic process.”
Israel’s restrictions on Palestinian movement and trade are the primary barriers to economic growth in the West Bank and Gaza.
Palestinians in Gaza who have protested these conditions have been answered with thousands of Israeli-fired bullets, resulting in more than 200 deaths.
There’s an adage about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes: