Could a Massive Diamond Heist Happen in Israel?

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A day after robbers dressed as police officers and armed with machine guns stole diamonds worth millions of dollars from the runway of Brussels’ Zaventem Airport runway, Israeli diamond dealers said a similar heist could never happen in Israel.

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“Robberies like this occur mainly in Europe because the continent is so open to traffic and you can make the [stolen] goods disappear immediately,” one dealer said.

Industry figures said it was unlikely that the 120 parcels of purloined diamonds were now headed for Israel.

They explained that even if someone succeeded in smuggling such a large quantity of diamonds into the country they would have a hard time selling them or shipping them to another destination.

One Israeli source noted that as long as the shipment was insured the theft did not pose too much of a problem for the diamond company.

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“This kind of theft is the best ‘sale’ around,” said the source, “because money is automatically given by the insurance company. The company doesn’t even need to check how and why the package disappeared, because everything is published [in the media],” he said.

One Israeli diamond dealer said he was shocked that a robery took place at such an “organized and orderly” airport.

“It’s worrying to think that this airport, through which diamond deliveries are constantly passing, could be robbed,” he said.

Belgian state broadcaster VRT reported the value was 350 million euros. A spokeswoman for the Antwerp Diamond Center said the value may be closer to $50 million.

The Zaventem's international airport near Brussels, as seen on March 14, 2011.Credit: Reuters

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