Israel Forces At Gaza Crossing Find Hamas Military Boots Smuggled In 'Emoji' Slippers

Military boots that were hidden inside cartoon slippers, which Israel believes Hamas was trying to smuggle into the Gaza Strip on Sunday. Israeli Defense Ministry

The Israeli Defense Ministry says it has discovered thousands of military boots, intended for the Palestinian militant group Hamas, smuggled inside slippers adorned by emojis.

In a video published Sunday, border agents are shown pulling brightly-colored, furry slippers out of a shipment at the Kerem Shalom crossing into the Gaza Strip, then cutting open the footwear to discover camouflage military boots. The Defense Ministry said were intended for the military arm of Hamas, known as the Al-Qassam Brigades.

The boots were made by a company named Magnum Boots and Apparel and had been sewn into the slippers, which were decorated with emoji symbols used on smartphones. Photos showed black, olive and brown-colored boots.

"Smuggling attempts are part of a daily war that is mostly hidden from the public eye and is carried out by the best of this country's sons and daughters," Ami Shaked, Director of the Kerem Shalom border crossing into the Gaza Strip, told the nationalist news site Jewish Press.

Israel has maintained an economic blockade over the coastal territory since 2007, restricting access in and out of the territory at one crossing, while Egypt does the same with another, known as the Rafah crossing. It has kept a naval blockade on the territory for what it says are security reasons, to prevent shipments in and out.

Hamas has fought three wars with Israel from the territory since 2008, and continues to vow to "liberate" modern-day Israel. it is a position the Israeli government says represents a bid to stop the existence of a state of Jewish character, and eradicate Jewish people from the Middle East.

The group has received support from the Iranian regime, which views Israel as its arch-enemy, and has started a marriage of convenience with the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah, also backed by Tehran.

Israel imposes tough restrictions on the Gaza border, believing that Hamas will attempt to smuggle materials used to make rockets, explosives and tunnels into the enclave. The smuggling business had become so lucrative that Israelis have even been charged on suspicion of supplying materials to the militants. In 2015, Israel charged three of its nationals with working with Palestinians in Gaza to smuggle to Hamas.

There has also been a significant recent increase in the amount of drugs smuggled into the Gaza Strip. In January alone as many drugs—mostly the painkiller tramadol and marijuana—were seized in Gaza as in the whole of 2016. Reuters reported that Palestinian and Egyptian gangs are responsible for the trade that once took place in a tunnel network between Egypt and Gaza, before the Egyptian military destroyed the tunnels in 2014 and 2015.

Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip after winning elections in 2006. It also successfully quashed an attempted takeover by the rival faction Fatah a year later. It has not held elections since and maintains a form of conservative Islamic law over its people, which number almost two million, while conditions continue to deteriorate after years of war, Israel's blockade and Palestinian infighting.

The World Bank warned in 2015 that the Gazan economy is on the "verge of collapse". Unemployment has also risen to 43 percent, which is one of the highest rates in the world. The United Nations has said that the coastal enclave could become "unliveable" by 2020.