Customs Refuses to Reveal Identity of IDF Officer Caught Smuggling

Senior soldier among 200 Israelis caught evading import duties in customs sting.

Customs officials ran a four-day operation this week, code-named "Flowering Spring," to catch Israelis returning from overseas without declaring goods at Ben-Gurion International Airport. They found some 200 people bringing in items they did not declare to customs - or pay duty on.

One of those caught is a senior officer in the Israel Defense Forces, who was found bringing in 100 shirts from the Gap. The Customs Directorate reported on the operation to the press, including the incident involving the senior officer. After Avi Benyahu, a spokesman for the IDF, saw the report he asked for more information on the officer, so as to allow the IDF to investigate and take any necessary disciplinary action. But both the press and the Tax Authority, which oversees customs, refused the request, claiming privacy considerations.

The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said in response: "The Tax Authority did not find it appropriate to pass the details of the case on to IDF authorities, claiming confidentiality. On the other hand, they did find it appropriate to inform journalists that a senior IDF officer was involved. Therefore, we are unable to determine the truth of the report."

Also during the customs' operation, one Israeli was caught wearing 17 name-brand shirts - one on top of the other - as well as other clothing from the Far East, thought to be imitations of famous labels such as Ralph Lauren.

Expensive jewelry was also found, with one traveler caught with polished diamonds on his person, but the most commonly smuggled items were large quantities of cigarettes and alcohol. Other items discovered included cell phones and watches.