“Terror” boot claim kicks up Twitter scorn

Israel boasted that it prevented these boots from being smuggled into Gaza for “terrorist purposes.”

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.

Israel is the largest recipient of US military aid. Weaponry made in the US, including bunker-buster bombs made by Boeing, based in Chicago, has killed civilians in Gaza.

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.

“Dual-use” restrictions

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.

With 70 percent unemployment among Gazans between the ages of 15 and 29, young people who can are leaving the territory.

Palestinians in Gaza who have protested these conditions have been answered with thousands of Israeli-fired bullets, resulting in more than 200 deaths.

Gaza has seen an increasing number of suicides, as well as higher rates of divorce and abuse of drugs.

There’s an adage about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes:

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Oh my god ! My 14 year old son has just left the house wearing boots identical to those seized by COGAT. He claimed he was going to play football on the park with his mates, but now I see the horrible truth: he is on his way to Israel, armed with a regulation size ball, a carton of apple juice and a BANANA! Yes, now the scales have fallen from my eyes. I thought the banana was to chomp at half-time, now I see it is a deadly weapon to be hurled at unarmed, sweet, generous Israeli soldiers. As for the apple juice. We all know it contains a tiny bit of acid. No doubt that will be squirted into the eyes of high-ranking Israeli officers as my son carries out his dastardly plan to destroy Israel with a football. How devious the enemies of Zionism can be. I shall head off in pursuit of my son at once and shoot him in the ankles with the shotgun I keep in case anyone who looks vaguely Arab comes within a mile of my house. Of course, I may miss his ankles and shoot him in the head, but it has to be done. And he has three pals with him. ALL WEARING BOOTS. The vile terrorists. If they survive, I shall imprison them in the garden, forbid visitors, control strictly what comes in and out, bulldoze the shed, deny them medicines, restrict their education. What minute vigilance is necessary when you are defending territory given to you by god three thousand years ago,even though you had to take it back by unconscionable terrorism from its inhabitants and in defiance of international law, arm yourself to the teeth, suppress historical evidence of your crimes, deny democracy, seize more territory in a war you initiate while blaming it on an enemy who has tried hard to be a friend..Whose knows what's next? Maybe Palestinians and my son will want to wear SOCKS! Or UNDERPANTS! Or use SHAMPOO and TOOTHPASTE! Maybe they'll want to breath air. The swine.

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Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is the managing editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.