Police foil meat smuggling from Ramallah

Raid in Atarot yields 30 tons of beef with fake kosher certification.

Chef Yiftah Zafrir of Habokrim works wonders with the Golan’s quality beef. (photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)
Chef Yiftah Zafrir of Habokrim works wonders with the Golan’s quality beef.
(photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)
Police made two large-scale seizures of unlicensed meat in recent days, as smugglers seek to cash in on increased pre-Passover demand.
On Tuesday, Judea and Samaria District police and IDF soldiers manning the Metzukei Dragot checkpoint on Route 90 north of Ein Gedi found a false wall on a truck with Israeli license plates. Behind it they discovered more than a ton and a half of meat which the driver had bought in Ramallah, and planned to smuggle into Israel where he would sell it at a major mark-up.
The Judea and Samaria District Police said the meat would likely have made its way to some of Tel Aviv’s finest restaurants, as well as Passover Seders across the country.
The seizure was part of a wider investigation into the importing of poor quality and inedible meat from South America to the Palestinian Authority, from where it is smuggled into Israel.
On Sunday police arrested nine suspects who allegedly were running a network that imported South American meat into the PA, and then took it the Atarot industrial district north of Jerusalem where it was repackaged and stamped with fake kosher certifications, expiration dates, and certifications from health authorities.
During the raid, police seized 30 tons of meat and thousands of shekels in cash.
The head of the alleged smuggling ring is, according to police, an Israeli Arab who owns a legal meat distribution company in Israel and is a partner in a meat distribution company headquartered in the PA.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said in a Facebook post on Tuesday that since the beginning of 2016, 39,000 kilos of meat have been seized by their investigators, and that in the past three years they have foiled 363 smuggling attempts totaling 729 tons.
The ministry said smuggling attempts increase every year in advance of Passover, when the demand for meat in Israel spikes.
At the Knesset’s Economics committee on Tuesday, MK Haim Jelin (Zionist Union) blamed the government for allowing the import of unsupervised food from abroad, and called for more support for local producers.