Four Palestinians were arrested Friday morning at the Israel-Jordan border for trying to smuggle 94 protected goldfinches into Hebron in the West Bank.
The office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said that the Palestinians hid the small songbirds in their pants, and were detained after rousing the suspicion of the Allenby Bridge crossing's guards.
Police said that the four men did not have a permit to own or transfer the birds, adding the suspects admitted they were planning to sell each one for hundreds of shekels.
This is the biggest attempt to smuggle wildlife through Israel's border with Jordan in the past two years, Israel's Civil Administration said. European goldfinches, which are a protected species in Israel, are illegally trapped and traded in Israeli territory as well, a practice that poses a serious threat to the species in the region.
Major Hadi Khatib, Commander of the Liaison Office at Allenby Bridge, said that Palestinians returning from Jordan have made several similar smuggling attempts over the past month.
Last week, the Civil Administration said a Palestinian was arrested for attempting to covertly smuggle goldfinches in his shoes. In 2017, a Palestinian man from Nablus was also caught at Allenby Bridge with over 40 birds tied to his legs in an attempt to smuggle them into Jordan.