A number of passengers were apprehended by customs agents at Ben-Gurion International Airport as they tried smuggling esrogim into the country. Customs agents report they tried to smuggle the esrogim into the country without paying tax and without the required Agriculture Ministry permit.
They report one smuggler is a school principal in Betar Illit who went through the Green Line with 125 esrogim in his suitcase. He had an unspecified number of esrogim in his carryon bag. When he was questioned the agents learned he arrived with another passenger who already passed through and was in the arrivals terminal. The agents searched for the passenger and located him.
The second passenger explained he traveled to Jerba for the esrogim for these are the only ones that he and his community will use. He only had a carryon and it contained esrogim.
A third passenger, arriving from France, was apprehended traveling with 150 mehudar esrogim which agents report were “well wrapped in his suitcase”. He explained that he simply wished to distribute them for people free of charge to permit them to fulfill the mitzvah.
Another passenger, an Israeli citizen, was apprehended with 125 mehudar esrogim in his suitcase.
Import tax on esrogim is 2.72 NIS per kilogram but the fee cannot exceed 144%. In addition, one must pay 18% value added tax.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)