TEL AVIV (Jul. 30)
Israeli smugglers are working in collusion with intifada activists to illegally bring agricultural products from the administered territories into Israel.
The contraband produce is sold illegally as Israeli produce, Ma’ariv reported Monday.
The two parties have different motives for the importation. For the Israelis, the incentive is profit. For the Palestinians, it is the dislocation of Israeli agriculture.
According to Ma’ariv, Israeli farmers and merchants involved in the racket provide the smugglers with forged bills of lading.
Chai Binyamini, director general of the Agriculture Supervision Authority, which exposed some of the smuggling rings, says the bills certify the produce has been grown in Israel.
Binyamin revealed that “Jewish smugglers who enter the Gaza Strip at night are provided with an escort of intifada guards, to facilitate their purchase of merchandise from Arab farmers and smuggle it into Israel,” Ma’ariv said.
Last week, inspectors of the Agriculture Authority thwarted 25 vehicles smuggling fruit and vegetables to Israeli markets. They seized over 1,300 pounds of mutton at Tel Aviv’s HaCarmel market that was smuggled from the West Bank.
They also caught an egg-stealing ring and impounded tens of thousands of grade “A” eggs in Western Galilee.
Binyamini said the intifada leadership covers the legal expenses of those caught. He complained that they have been given overly light sentences, Ma’ariv reported.
According to the newspaper, the investigation also uncovered a market for smuggled produce in Atil village in the Jatt area of what is known as the “Arab triangle” in central Israel.