(JTA) – Nine people, Israelis and Palestinians, have been arrested on suspicion of smuggling unsafe meat into Israel from the Palestinian territories and selling it, with forged kashrut certifications, to Israeli restaurants.
The arrests Monday followed an investigation by the Israel Police and three Israeli ministries: agriculture, finance and health, Ynet reported. Additional arrests are expected.
Officials have confiscated 30 tons of meat, thousands of dollars in cash and vehicles with secret compartments in a scheme involving the cooperative efforts of Palestinian and Israeli smugglers.
According to Ynet, 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, according to Ynet.
Chief Inspector Shmuel Jerbi, who is overseeing the investigation, told Ynet that the restaurant owners are also being investigated.