Stinks is the word - travelers passing these days through Tel Aviv Airport are so numerous it’s difficult to follow their movements through the terminal halls. But late on the afternoon, the Plant Protection and Inspection Services inspectors from the Ministry of Agriculture noticed a black bag seemingly abandoned near a trash bin in the baggage hall of Terminal 3. A brief inquiry with the airline found that the bag belonged to an Indian passport holder employed in Israel.
On closer examination by the Plant Protection and Inspection Services inspectors found that it contained a durian - a tropical fruit notorious for its ferocious, unpleasant odor (to put it mildly). The bag arrived with the passenger who was returning from India but he chose to leave it behind and proceeded toward the exit for fear that he would be found out following the inspectors’ activities together with their sniffer dogs at that hour. The fruit he was carrying weighed 8.5 kg. It originated from East Asia, where it is nicknamed the “King of Fruit”. Due to its intensely pungent, unpleasant smell, many places around the world (especially Thailand) have signs posted at the entrance to most public buildings prohibiting entry with the fruit.
Once the Ministry inspectors obtained the details of the bag’s owner, they contacted him and warned him not to attempt this again. The fruit was confiscated and sent to be destroyed. The Ministry of Agriculture repeats its warning that introduction of any plant-origin product or produce to Israel can be severely destructive to local agriculture. Plants can potentially introduce pests currently non-existent in Israel. Such pests can be harmful to local crops. They can cause irreversible damage and destroy entire agricultural crops.
There is an absolute legal prohibition on bringing plant-based products or produce into Israel. This is intended to prevent the passage of pests between countries. Any such attempts will be stopped at the border crossings into Israel. Any plant being brought into the country requires advance approval from the Plant Protection and Inspection Services at the Ministry of Agriculture. Any attempt to bypass this prohibition constitutes a criminal offense.