Nine Israelis and Palestinians have been arrested on suspicion of smuggling meat into Israel from the West Bank and selling it — with forged kosher certifications and expiration dates — to top Israeli restaurants.
According to police, the meat originated in South America and was sent through the port of Haifa to a Palestinian importer, ostensibly for use in areas of the West Bank governed by the Palestinian Authority. Instead, the meat was stored in a Palestinian town northeast of Jerusalem and smuggled back into Israel under conditions that violated health regulations.
After the meat was repackaged with fake kosher certifications, as well as fraudulent expiration dates and veterinary permits, it was distributed to “leading and renowned restaurants” and stores, police said in a statement, adding that the meat was “inedible.”
The arrests Monday followed an investigation by the Israel Police, Agriculture Ministry, and Health Ministry. Additional arrests were expected.
Officials Monday confiscated 30 tons of meat, thousands of dollars in cash, and vehicles with secret compartments used in the scheme, which involved the cooperative efforts of Palestinian and Israeli smugglers.
Chief Inspector Shmuel Jerbi, who was overseeing the investigation, told the Ynet news website that the restaurant owners are also being investigated. The restaurants and stores that received the meat were not immediately identified.