JERUSALEM (May. 29)
Mushrooms, peppers and extra cheese, please — but hold the explosives.
Concerns about booby-trapped pizzas have led the Israel Defense Force to impose restrictions on the use of a Web site that allows users to spice up Israeli army service by sending pies to soldiers.
More than 5,000 pizzas have been sent to members of the IDF since the service began operating about a month ago, says Shimon Aharon, a British-born Israeli and one of the co-founders of the site, www.pizzaidf.org.
Initially for IDF members serving in the West Bank, the pizza deliveries will become available for troops in the Gush Katif bloc in the Gaza Strip starting next week.
After news organizations reported on the site, however, the army began to worry that Palestinian terrorists would take advantage of the deliveries to send “pizzas” with more than just explosive taste.
IDF officials recently instructed soldiers not to accept any pizzas they had not ordered themselves.
The army said in a statement that the directive was issued “due to concern that hostile elements would make use of the pizza deliveries.”
The restrictions may take a slice out of his business, but Aharon stresses that his Web-based pizza delivery service works in cooperation with the IDF.
Requests for pizzas come in from army units, and deliveries are coordinated with them, he says.
Most of the online pizzas have been sent from the United States, with others sent from Europe, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Turkey, according to Aharon.
The site offers several options, including:
a full month of pizza; or
an order of ice cream.
A personal message also can be included with the delivery. A selection of some of the messages can be read on the Web site.
Restaurants in Jerusalem and Jewish settlements deliver the pizzas to checkpoints, jeep and foot patrols or army bases.
The pizzas have been warmly received by soldiers in the field.
“It is impossible to put into words what the arrival of a pizza can do for a tank crew,” one battalion commander wrote in a thank-you letter posted on the Web site.