JERUSALEM – Just days before the Palestinian Authority is set to assume control of Gaza’s border with Egypt, Israeli border guards on the lookout for smuggled weapons yesterday discovered a different kind of banned goods in a truck attempting to infiltrate the Jewish state: fraudulent kosher chocolate marshmallows.
The truck had tried to enter Israel through the Karni Crossing from Gaza, and was stopped during a routine check of vehicles passing through the busy checkpoint. Upon examination, soldiers found boxes of “Krembos,” a popular snack in Israel of round chocolate shells filled with flavored marshmallow cream on a biscuit, displaying forged kosher seals.
Israel’s Chief Rabbinate said Israel does not import any of its Krembos, and explained there have been instances in the past of Palestinians caught trying to sell fake kosher products to Jewish vendors.
Israel inspects all Palestinian goods leaving Gaza closely, fearing the smuggling of weapons and suicide bombers across the border.
The Karni Crossing was reopened last week as part of a deal brokered by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that gives the Palestinians control of the Rafah crossing with Egypt starting Nov. 25, and allows the PA to construct a seaport in Gaza. Rice also wants Israel to discuss the possibility of the Palestinians opening their own airport.
Rice’s Rafah deal restricts Israel to monitor the area by camera, calls for a European presence at the border station, and gives the Palestinians final veto power on all vehicles and persons entering Gaza.
The Egypt-Gaza border has been the scene of rampant Palestinian weapons smuggling.
WND reported prior to her departure to the Middle East, Rice met with leading liberal New York Jews and a Jewish organization that encouraged her to pressure Israel while brokering the border deal, telling the diplomat her tough line against Israel will win her American Jewish support.
After a meeting in Washington with the Israel Policy Forum, a far-leftist Mideast Jewish think tank, the Forum sent the State Department a paper titled “Building a Bridge from disengagement to Two States” in which it urged the U.S. to take “aggressive” action on efforts to “help grow the Palestinian economy so the Palestinian Authority can provide jobs and basic services for Palestinians,” reportedly listing as crucial open borders.
Forum president Seymour Reich, who participated in the meeting with Rice, said, “I have no doubt that we bolstered the secretary of state’s instinct and strengthened her opinion that aggressive American involvement was needed to achieve practical results.”
Last week, heads of Israel’s top military brass – including the Israeli Defense Forces military intelligence unit, the Israeli border police and the general Israeli police authority – voiced opposition to the border deal.
In written letters sent to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s office, military representatives blasted the deal as “hazardous” and warned the Palestinians are likely to smuggle into Gaza foreign terrorists and heavy weaponry, including possibly antiaircraft missiles. They also took issue with the allowance of a seaport, upon which construction is set to begin next month.
The last time the Palestinians had control over a seaport, they were caught trying to smuggle large quantities of heavy weaponry.
In January 2002, Israeli commandos stopped the Karine-A vessel about 300 miles off the coast of Israel. The ship, which late PA leader Yasser Arafat admitted to ordering, was carrying 50 tons of Iranian-made weapons, including Katyusha rockets, ammunition and explosives.
Sharon described the vessel as a “ship of terror” which “would have changed the strategic balance” between Israel and the Palestinians.