It will soon be much more expensive for Israelis to receive gifts from abroad.

According to the report, starting in early 2011, any packages arriving in Israel from overseas will go through customs and the recipient will not only have to pay customs according to the value of the package but also a standard 38IS (over $10) levy on each package to cover handling.

The change means that Israeli recipients will even be paying for packages whose total value is lower than $50 and were exempt until now from VAT and customs.

The new custom levy will also mean that packages that until now, for the most part, have entered Israel without undergoing any customs inspection, will be checked carefully by customs. This will render ordering items from abroad very uneconomical.

Higher-priced packages, whose value is greater than $50 and up to $1000, will also go through customs as they enter Israel. VAT, customs, and a customs clearance fee will be collected on each accordingly.

Globes attributed the new charges to the privatization of Israel Post, which while still state-owned, now operates on a profit-making basis and is forced to compete with international delivery companies such as FedEx, UPS, and DHL.

The Communications Ministry, which received many complaints following the announcement, said that it would act to ensure that customers are not hit hard by these new service charges.

“We will ask to ease the fees, so that the cost is not imposed on consumers. We do not want the consumer to pay the price. Our intention is that the solution will hurt the public as little as possible,” said a spokesman for the ministry, who added that the matter is still under review by the Tax Authority, whose intent to reduce the extra costs to the public.

Israel Post was quoted by Globes as saying in response that the parcel release fee is less than half the fee charged by the international delivery companies.

A possible solution to the new service and customs charges may simply be to purchase items within Israel. In fact, this is what Esther Teichtal, for example, owner of the website store, that deals with items made in Israel, is encouraging people to do.

“Today there is almost nothing that you cannot buy in Israel,” said Teichtal. “The high cost of mailing packages from overseas, now compounded by this customs service charge, make it much more economical for gift-givers  to ‘buy blue & white’ and pay a minimal delivery charge instead.”

"In the days of Amazon and other overseas internet booksellers and in a country where immigrants receive gifts from relatives abroad who wish to keep in contact that way, this is a partial solution", said an Anglo Jerusalemite queried by INN..