Israel foils smuggling of 58 tonnes of watermelons from West Bank

The watermelons were intended to be sold at a large Israeli supermarket chain, according to Agriculture Ministry inspectors.

ISRAELI-GROWN watermelon – why does it taste so good?  (photo credit: BEN BARUCH)
ISRAELI-GROWN watermelon – why does it taste so good?
(photo credit: BEN BARUCH)

Agriculture Ministry inspectors seized some 58 tonnes of watermelons which were smuggled from the Palestinian Authority into Israel.

Following intelligence gathered by the Agriculture Ministry's Central Unit for Enforcement and Investigations, two trucks were detained at the Jordan Valley border crossing, located on Highway 90, and the az-Za'ayyem checkpoint near Jerusalem respectively.

According to the ministry, the two trucks left from the same point in the West Bank and diverged prior to entering Israel.

During a check made by the inspectors, they were shown fake certificates claiming the watermelons were grown in the Jordan Valley, where all agricultural products grown are regulated and approved for sale across Israel.  

The watermelons were intended to be sold at a large Israeli supermarket chain, the ministry added, according to an initial investigation of the truck drivers, who were detained. Legal action will be taken against the drivers.

Following a thorough inspection by relevant professionals and due to fears of the smuggled watermelons carrying harmful pests, all 58 tonnes will be exterminated.

 The illegally-smuggled watermelons caught by the Agriculture Ministry (credit: AGRICULTURE MINISTRY) The illegally-smuggled watermelons caught by the Agriculture Ministry (credit: AGRICULTURE MINISTRY)

Intelligence work by the Agriculture Ministry

The illegal smuggling was halted due to a "thorough operational intelligence work" done by the Central Unit for Enforcement and Investigations, the unit's head, Roei Kliger, said.

"We prevented another smuggling attempt which could have cost the Israeli public a very heavy price"

Roei Kliger, head of the Agriculture Ministry's Central Unit for Enforcement and Investigations

In February, inspectors also seized 400 kg. of strawberries that have been illegally smuggled into the country from the Gaza Strip.

The marketing of agricultural produce that has not been properly inspected and regulated is forbidden by Israeli law. The ministry added that illegal imports could harm Israeli vegetation and products.