Inbound passengers to Israel can each bring one etrog in their luggage for the holidays, but upon arrival to the airport or seaport, those toting the Succot citrus fruit must present their item to a representative from the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry, or in his or her absence, a customs official, the ministry announced on Tuesday.
The representative will conduct a detailed visual check of the yellow fruit, in order to prevent the entrance of contagious lesions and pests into the country, the ministry said in a statement. But while the rules have been bended for etrog entrance, passengers can by no means enter with lulav, willow or myrtle plants – the other three of the “Four Species” of Succot – as for these plants there is no feasible method of checking for abnormal abrasions, and “unsupervised entrance would be fraught with tangible danger of infiltration of pests can could damage human, animal and plant health, and potentially cause irreversible harm,” according to the ministry.
Israel’s current 1,000 dunams worth of etrog land plots yield about 1 million of the fruits each year, of which about 700,000 are used at home and 300,000 are exported aboard, the ministry statement said. Meanwhile, prices for the Succot citrus – which belongs to the same family as oranges, lemons, grapefruits, mandarins, tangerines and pomelos – can range between NIS 10 and 500, depending on the elegance of the individual etrog, but average at around NIS 40, according to the ministry.