Thousands of palm fronds have been smuggled from Egypt and have made their way to Israel and the United States, veteran palm frond traders said Monday, despite the Egyptian ban on their export ahead of the upcoming Sukkot holiday.

One of the traders told Haaretz that the palm fronds, which are known as lulavs in Hebrew and are used ceremonially in Sukkot, were transferred from Egypt via Jordan to Israel and Jewish communities in New York and other big cities in the U.S..

The lulav traders utilized long-existing ties with senior officials in Egypt, and succeeded to covertly purchase a large amount of lulavs. According to one of the traders in New York, a senior official in Cairo received $100,000 to aid in smuggling the palm fronds outside of Egypt.

The trader said that Egyptian farmers desired to sell lulavs to Israel, especially in light of the economic crisis that has recently fallen upon the country. According to him, there was no logical reason to bar the export of palm fronds to Israel other than anti-Israel sentiments.