Israelis arrested throughout the UK for possession of khat plant

Khat is legal in Israel, but illegal abroad, leading to a massive wave of arrests abroad for Israelis coming to the country with khat on their persons.

Ali Abdi, 14, and his friend Abdulahi Yaroow, 13, chew khat in Mogadishu August 10, 2014. Grown on plantations in the highlands of Kenya and Ethiopia, tonnes of khat, or qat, dubbed "the flower of paradise" by its users, are flown daily into Mogadishu airport, to be distributed from there in convoys (photo credit: REUTERS/FEISAL OMAR)
Ali Abdi, 14, and his friend Abdulahi Yaroow, 13, chew khat in Mogadishu August 10, 2014. Grown on plantations in the highlands of Kenya and Ethiopia, tonnes of khat, or qat, dubbed "the flower of paradise" by its users, are flown daily into Mogadishu airport, to be distributed from there in convoys
(photo credit: REUTERS/FEISAL OMAR)
The number of Israelis arrested in recent days for possession of the khat plant, a stimulant common in Israel and throughout the Middle East, has risen substantially, according to the Foreign Ministry.
The ministry sent a message of clarification stating that khat is considered illegal in the UK, despite being legal when consumed in its natural form in Israel, and that anyone caught with the illegal substance may therefore be subject to imprisonment.
The ministry also reminded those travelling abroad – a rare phenomenon in light of the coronavirus pandemic – to check their baggage, both hand and hold luggage, for any items that may be illegal in their travel destination.
Israelis must also not smuggle khat abroad, the Foreign Ministry and the Department of Israelis Abroad in the Consular Division stated. Such an exploit "may end with a prolonged arrest in a foreign country, with many familial expenses and mental difficulties for the person under arrest," according to a statement by the Foreign Ministry.
Numerous Israelis were caught smuggling khat throughout the past year in Europe, with the number of arrests by October 2019 standing at 67 arrests. The arrests spanned France, Sweden, Spain, Ireland and Turkey.
Some of those arrested for khat-smuggling were given up to two years in prison, such as an Israeli arrested in February in Paris, who was also given a fine of €14,000.
As of February, the Department of Israelis Abroad in the Consular Division of the Foreign Ministry stated that they were dealing with over 100 cases of khat-smuggling out of Israel.

Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.