Featured Post

Free The Hostages! Bring Them Home!

(this is a featured post and will stay at the top for the foreseeable future.. scroll down for new posts) -------------------------------...

Dec 29, 2019

innovative cigarette smuggling ring thwarted

This report on Channel 13 News is really interesting. It says that many Israelis, including many Haredim, have found an innovative method for smuggling cigarettes to circumvent the high taxes locally on cigarettes.

Truth is, I am not even sure it should be considered smuggling, bu tit is some sort of tax avoidance. The following is the definition of smuggling:

  1. the illegal movement of goods into or out of a country.
    "cocaine smuggling has increased alarmingly"

In this case, nothing is being moved in or out of the country illegally, or even legally. The cigarettes were in Israel and stayed in Israel. So smuggling it probably isn't, but it is some sort of tax crime and maybe another type of crime as well.

Anyway, here is the innovative plan. They buy the cheapest flight available, and nowadays there are tickets to destinations that cost bupkes. For just 20-50 shekels you can get a ticket to a multitude of destinations in Europe or elsewhere. They go to the airport and buy cigarettes in duty free - and they buy far more than the legal limitations because nobody enforces that or stops them. They then intentionally miss the flight and leave the airport getting their passport stamped as having returned to Israel.

All the while, their purchased cigarettes remain in their bags which they bring home with them, and then go on to sell in their communities or yeshivas or wherever.

According to the article, because of this report, nearly 55,000 cigarette packets have been confiscated during attempts to smuggle them in (though as I said I am not sure smuggling is the right word). As well, the customs authority at Ben Gurion airport has now issued new directives that will have people checked even if they did not get on or off a flight...

So with the new directives in place, this method might have already gone the way of the dodo bird, but just as this method was discovered, it will surely be replaced, if it has not already been, with a new method. When there is a will there is a way.

Reach thousands of readers with your ad by advertising on Life in Israel


  1. Ok, you gotta tell me where I can get a flight for 20 shekel to europe

    1. if you have some flexibility in choosing dates, it is easy to find. look on the cheap airline flights websites like skyscanner, cheapoflights and others. for example, i just went to skyscanner and left the search defaults on tel aviv to anywehre on anyd ates and it shows me flights to cities in European countries such as Bucharest and Bulgaria and many others starting at $20. I dont know the different seasons, but back in November it was even cheaper (first hand knowledge)

  2. The airport (or parts of the airport) is considered to be not part of Israel for the sake of many immigration/travel-related laws. This is true of many (international?) airports, and it's why people can fly in to the country and then live in the airport if they aren't allowed in to the country. Or why border patrol can bypass rights that one would normally have in the country. It's also how duty-free can be duty-free. VAT is avoided because it's not on Israeli territory, and duties are avoided because the government chooses to look the other way in exchange for helping the economy by encouraging foreigners to purchase goods in Israel.

    All this boils down to bringing any goods from duty-free are considered as having been purchased outside of the country. As the intent to waive duty is only directed at travelers, it devolves to smuggling to purchase a flight ticket for the sake of obtaining physical access to the duty-free shop.

    And it doesn't surprise me that Haredim partook of this fraud scheme.

    1. Just a technical point, it is sovereign Israeli territory- just as, contrary to myth, foreign embassies are- but for certain legal purposes it isn't. So yeah, this is smuggling, and illegal. They look the other way if you buy a bottle or two of scotch for your own use, but once you resell it you've crossed a big line.

    2. I once heard a charedi claim that you can't have an eruv in Jerusalem (they didn't mention Tel Aviv, a more obvious case) because the embassies there are sovereign territory. It's a reach, but legally it doesn't hold water either.


Related Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...