Israel Claims Gaza Militants Using AliExpress to Purchase Equipment for Terror Activities

The products ordered online, which Israeli authorities deemed suspicious enough to confiscate, include miniature electric drills, walkie talkies and binoculars

A walkie talkie deemed dangerous enough by Israeli authorities to seize at Gaza's border.
A walkie talkie deemed dangerous enough by Israeli authorities to seize at Gaza's border. Defense Ministry / COGAT

Militant groups in the Gaza Strip have apparantly turned to online shopping sites such as AliExpress to stay stocked up on terror paraphernalia, at least according to Israel.

Israeli authorities have seized hundreds of packages en route to Gaza, which they say contain prohibited products intended for terrorist activity, including miniature electric drills, walkie talkies, binoculars, motherboards, inverters and optical cable cutters.

A mini quadcopter.
Defense Ministry / GPO

The Defense Ministry and COGAT, Israel’s military liaison agency with the Palestinian Authority, said in a joint statement that they suspect some of the products could have been intended to build improvised weapons.

Citing security concerns, Israel and Egypt maintain tight restrictions at their Gaza borders. Hamas, regarded by the West as a terrorist group, seized the enclave in fighting in 2007 against forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. 

A 'laser sight' scope, with a lighter placed next to it for size reference.
Defense Ministry / GPO

Israel's limits on Gaza's import of so-called "dual use" material, such as steel and cement that it fears could be used by Hamas to make weapons or fortifications, are unlikely to change soon. But hundreds of truckloads of food and a wide variety of consumer goods move into Gaza daily via Israel.

Israeli border restrictions, including a nearly blanket ban on exports from Gaza, and three wars since 2008 have imposed severe economic hardship in the territory.

Since Hamas ceded Gaza's border crossings with Israel - the main gateway for commercial imports - to the Authority on November 1 under an Egyptian-brokered unity deal, many prices in the territory have dropped, as the Rafah crossing has allowed goods to come in from Egypt as well.