Indictment: Guards smuggled millions of eggs from PA
Fourteen people were indicted Thursday for smuggling millions of eggs and other products from the Palestinian Authority into Israel through the Shomron Crossing, Ynet has learned.
Some of the smugglers served as security guards at the Shomron checkpoint in the West Bank.
According to the indictment, which was filed with the Petah Tikva District Court, a Palestinian resident of the West Bank assisted the smugglers in illegally transporting dozens of trucks containing eggs and other goods to Israel.
Seventy-two of these trucks, which transported more than 10 million eggs, entered Israel without being subjected to a security check, the indictment said. According to the prosecution, some of the eggs are believed to be tainted with various diseases such as salmonella.
To increase their profits, the prosecution claimed, the smugglers accepted and handed out bribes, forged documents and committed acts that may cause the spread of disease. They were also charged with violating the Money Laundering Prohibition Law. According to the indictment, the smuggling network pocketed some NIS 9 million ($2.2M) from the illicit activity.
One of the defendants, according to the indictment, is Shai Moshe of the Egg and Poultry Board. Moshe and the checkpoint security guards took part in the operation despite being aware of the health and security related dangers it posed to Israel.
The indictment said the smuggled eggs were embedded with phony stamps of approval. Moshe, according to the prosecution, also helped the smugglers gain exclusivity in the "fake egg" market.
According to suspicions, the ringleaders contacted Palestinian coop owners who raised the chickens without supervision and in deplorable sanitary conditions.
Police suspect that the smuggling ring conspired with Palestinian poultry farmers to smuggle the eggs to Israel and place them among eggs meant for Israel's markets, including the major supermarket chains.
For this purpose the farmers forged stamps from Israel after which the eggs were loaded on to trucks and sent on their way.
The main problem – getting through the Israeli security checkpoints near Ariel was overcome by bribing guards to turn a blind eye to the trucks. The security guards would time the trucks arrivals with their shifts and let the trucks through, and then the suppliers would mix the Palestinian eggs together with the kosher Israeli eggs and send them off to the markets.
"The defendants transported the eggs in trucks that could have been carrying weapons or terrorists – without subjecting them to a security check," the prosecution said in its request to keep the suspects in custody until the conclusion of the legal proceedings.
"The evidence shows that the eggs were kept under improper conditions. Some of them were kept in unrefrigerated containers for days. Despite this, they were marketed to the general public – thus increasing the risk for the spread of salmonella, which can cause death," it claimed.