On May 11, a truck left Gaza loaded with 2.5 tons of assorted biscuits. The biscuits were unloaded at Ashdod Seaport and from there, set sail directly to Italy. The biscuit shipment was not meant for export. That wouldn’t be profitable: it cost about $6,000 to ship the biscuits and they were only worth about $5,500. Actually, this story isn’t about what leaves Gaza, but about what can’t get in.

Let’s start at the beginning. Mohammad Tilbani, a Gaza businessman, has a snack and sweets production plant.  As part of upgrades he was making to his factory’s equipment, Tilbani decided to buy two Italian-made packaging machines. These machines are expensive and complex, and Tilbani had to be trained on how to use them. The most sensible plan would have been to invite an engineer from the Italian company to arrive with the machines and train their new operators. But, based on past experience, Tilbani guessed that the Italian engineer wouldn’t get a permit to enter the Gaza Strip. So, instead of the engineer coming to the biscuits, the biscuits, and Tilbani, went to him. It’s more expensive, a bit warped and a complete waste of money and biscuits, but sometimes the closure of Gaza generates these sorts of scenarios – immense effort is put into doing something that elsewhere wouldn’t be so difficult.

And so what came of the biscuits? In the end they got stuck at customs in Italy.