Israel thwarts West Bank smugglers

Taxes on tobacco and cigarettes estimated at hundreds of thousands of shekels

Captured counterfeit tobacco and cigarettes (photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Captured counterfeit tobacco and cigarettes
(photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Israeli authorities foiled an attempt to smuggle a large quantity of tobacco and cigarettes from the West Bank on Sunday.
The value of the tax on the items that were intended for the Israeli market was estimated to be worth hundreds of thousands of shekels.
According the Defense Ministry, examiners at the Defense Ministry Crossing Authority stopped a furniture truck driven by an Israeli citizen at the Trans-Samaria crossing last week after he aroused the suspicion of the person in charge of the inspection area.
The authority is responsible for operating the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossing points on the Israel-Gaza border as well as border crossings in the West Bank.
As inspectors moved the furniture inside the truck, they discovered a large amount of tobacco and cigarettes hidden between perfume boxes and other beauty products.
The goods were confiscated and the driver was arrested and transferred to the Israel Tax Authority for questioning.
In mid-July, authorities seized 5,300 packages of counterfeit cigarettes, weighing more than 1.5 tons and valued at NIS 1.7 million.
The Crossing Authority, together with ISA (Israeli Security Agency), COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories), Israel Police and the Tax Authority, intercept illicit goods on a regular basis at crossings from the West Bank or Gaza Strip.
On Saturday evening, two Palestinians armed with a home-made Carlo rifle and magazines hidden in their bag were arrested near the Trans-Samaria crossing.
Last year, COGAT said it foiled 1,226 smuggling attempts through the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza, an increase of 165% from the previous year.
“The Crossing Authority at the Ministry of Defense, in cooperation with others, works day and night to combat the intensification of terror elements in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank,” said Brig.- Gen. (res.) Kamil Abu Rokun, a former head of the Crossings Authority and now the head of COGAT.
“At the same time, the Crossing Authority is working to maintain high service and security norms at the crossings in the West Bank in order to help stabilize the civilian security situation.”