The Israel Air Force is investigating a man's offer to to sell them oxygen meters for pilots' helmets, because the parts already belong to the Israeli government, Israel Radio reported Thursday.
Apparently, in March of 2005 the IAF had sent the parts to Israeli subcontracting company Red Eye for repair, who in turn sent the parts to the United States to be mended. To evade customs tax, Red Eye seems to have declared the $32,000-package's value to be $90.
According to the investigation, when the oxygen meters returned to Israel with a stated value of $100, they were seized by Israeli officials. Customs then placed a tariff of NIS 24,306 on the equipment, which Red Eye never paid.
Because the package was still unclaimed by September, the report said, customs officials then auctioned it off. The winning bid for the essential military equipment, NIS 2,400, came from a man known only as Moshe. Several days later, Red Eye reported that a man named Moshe called, offering to sell them the oxygen meters for NIS 25,000. During the course of the conversation, he revealed that he knew he was holding IAF equipment and that it had been sent to America for repairs and was later seized at the border.
The report also revealed that the IAF itself was interested in obtaining the equipment from the same Moshe. However, as of Thursday morning, the Air Force had not yet re-purchased the parts.
Defense Ministry sources stress they have requested the Americans be appraised of the situation, because of very strict and sensitive regualtions on how American foreign military aid can be spent in Israel. In the 1980s, IAF Purchasing Department chief Brig. Gen. Rami Dotan was imprisoned for more than 10 years after being convicted of serious financial irregularities.
As a result, the Defense Ministry said, ministry officials must approve every repair and purchase, and any overseas transfer of military equipment must go through the ministy's office in New York.
The IAF investigation of the matter will prevent a similar blunder from happening again, a Defense Ministry spokeswoman said in response.