Smugglers Move 10 Million Eggs from PA to Israel
Fourteen Israelis were indicted Thursday for mass illegal importation of agricultural products from the Palestinian Authority. The two had a specific penchant for eggs, apparently – because they transported some 10 million eggs from farms in the PA to Israeli stores. Importing eggs from the PA to Israel is llegal becasue the eggs are not inspected, and are generally considered unsafe and unsanitary.
Those indicted were part of a large network of agricultural product smugglers, seeking to take advantage of the far lower prices on fruits, vegetables, and especially eggs in the PA. In addition, a PA resident was named in one of the indictments as the agent for PA farmers, who made the arrangements with the Israeli smugglers.
According to two indictments handed down in the case, the smugglers would line up dozens of trucks at checkpoints in Samaria, where farmers would drop off their merchandise. The indictments charge the group with a series of felonies, including giving bribes, intimidation, forging documents, money laundering, tax fraud, and endangering the public health. The indictment says that the group owed as much as NIS 7 million to the tax authorities.
The group was able to get away with their activities for so long because they apparently had an agent who worked at one of the Samaria crossings from the PA into Israel. During the time it was active, the group managed to transfer 72 truckloads of goods into Israel – including the aforementioned 10 million eggs.
One of those charged is a top official in the Israel Egg Production Council. He has been charged with fraud and suppressing evidence. He is accused of receiving bribes from the smugglers and allowing the eggs to be sold in several markets, including the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, where he intimidated merchants not to reveal that illegal eggs were being sold. The official is also accused of demanding bribes from merchants who were selling the eggs, which they were permitted to do; once they stopped paying, however, he sent public safety officers to seize and destroy the eggs as “PA contraband.”
Three of those charged are wives of the leaders of the group, and are accused of conspiring to prevent an investigation and destroying evidence.