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Customs Flag and Jack (Israel)

Customs and Excise, Me'hes U'Blo

Last modified: 2011-07-09 by andrew weeks
Keywords: customs | excise | mekhes u'blo | text: hebrew (white) | mekhes | blo | law |
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[Customs Flag (Israel)]
image by Željko Heimer



See also:


Description

The customs flag can be seen for instance at Haifa Customs House, among all the national flags hoisted on the building. According to the legislation there are two flags, a land flag (the customs house flag) and a flag for use at sea (the bow flag, i.e. a jack). Both flags are the same but in different sizes.
Dov Gutterman
, 26 August 2001

I assume therefore that it is not used as an ensign, at the stern. What do custom vessels fly as ensign: national flag or civil ensign?
Santiago Dotor
, 18 October 2002

Never saw one, but judging from other governmental vessels (apart from police boats) there is no flag at the stern and [the] national flag [is flown] on the main mast.
Dov Gutterman
, 18 October 2002

Following a government decision, the two main tax collection organization of Israel (Income and Property Tax Wing and Customs and VAT wing) were united to one body: Israel Taxes Authority. This unification came into force on 1 September 2004.
The outcome of this step was the disappearing of the customs flag which was replaced by the new flag of the Israel Taxes Authority.
Dov Gutterman, 16 November 2007


Customs Flag

[Customs Flag (Israel)] 9:14 | 90 × 140 cm
image by Željko Heimer
Flag adopted 14 May 1948, confirmed 20th October 1965

The Customs flag is a 9:14 blue flag with the national flag in the canton and the Customs badge in the lower fly. The Customs badge consists of a circular white inscription Me'hes U'Blo, meaning Customs and Excise, the two words delineated with a dot on each side.
Source: Customs flag legislation.
If I have read correctly the specifications in the legislation, the length of the flag in canton is not clearly stated, but it seems that it was taken as granted that it is half the length (as the scan from the legislation shows). The prescribed sizes of the canton makes this flag slightly different from the national flag: here the white stripes along the edges are of the same width as the blue stripes.
I have a problem with the prescription in the legislation that the width of the stripes forming the Magen David should be 2 cm on the Customs flag (1,5 cm on the Customs jack, making the problem even bigger). That would make the Magen David bigger (24 cm high) than the middle white stripe (19 cm high), provided the same Magen David construction as in the national flag is followed. From the scan from the legislation provided by Dov Gutterman, it seems that the Magen David might be of such design that it is 'thinner' than in the national flag, making the problem even bigger. Therefore I have assumed that the 2 cm designation must refer to something else, not the width of the stripes of the Magen David. For example, on the images provided I have made this 2 cm to be the gap between the Magen David and the blue stripes, which makes a reasonably good assumption. The question is whether this is a fault pas of the legislator, or translation or whatever or even if I misinterpreted it.
Željko Heimer
, 13 February 2002


Customs Jack

[Customs Jack (Israel)] 2:3 | 60 × 90 cm
image by Željko Heimer
Flag adopted 14 May 1948, confirmed 20th October 1965

The Customs jack is a 2:3 version of the Customs house flag with minor differences in construction details.
Source: Customs flag legislation.
Željko Heimer, 13 February 2002


Flag Legislation

My notes in brackets:

Customs Ordinance [note 1]
Chap. 2. Sec. 5: Customs Flag
5. Vessels in customs authority service will carry, for identification, a flag in the determined shape.

Customs Regulations 5766-1965 [adopted on 20 October 1965, note 2]
Chap. 2. Sec. 2: Customs flag
2. The customs flag as described and drawn in the 2nd supp. shall be hoisted on the Customs house and on bow of each vessel in customs authority service (...)

Supp. 2
Part A: Customs House Flag:
The flag: 140 cm in length and 90 cm in width. The background: blue except the figure of the flag of the State of Israel as described hereafter.

Figure of the flag of the State of Israel: In the upper left corner of the flag, next to the hoist, in height of 45 cm above the bottom length side. Background of the figure: white with two stripes of dark azure stripes on it, each stripe 6.5 cm wide, reaching all the length of the symbol from side to side. The upper stripe: at a distance of 6.5 cm from the upper length side. The lower stripe: at a distance of 6.5 cm from the lower length side. In the centre of the white background, between the the two azure stripes and in equal distance from both: a Magen David made of six azure stripes, each 2 cm wide, combined into two equilateral triangles whose bases are parallel to the two azure stripes along the flag.

The words Me'hes U'Blo [note 3]: embroidered in white between two concentrical circles whose centre is 20 cm far from the bottom side and 20 cm from the fly. Radius of one circle 10 cm and of the other circle 5 cm.

Part B: Jack:
The flag: 90 cm in length and 60 cm in width. The background: blue except the figure of the flag of the State of Israel as described hereafter.

Figure of the flag of the State of Israel: In the upper left corner of the flag, next to the hoist, in height of 30 cm above the bottom length side. Background of the figure: white with two stripes of dark azure stripes on it, each stripe 4.5 cm wide, reaching all the length of the symbol from side to side. The upper stripe: at a distance of 4.5 cm from the upper length side. The lower stripe: at a distance of 4.5 cm from the lower length side. In the centre of the white background, between the the two azure stripes and in equal distance from both: a Magen David made of six azure stripes, each 1.5 cm wide, combined into two equilateral triangles whose bases are parallel to the two azure stripes along the flag.

The words Me'hes U'Blo [note 3]: embroidered in white between two concentrical circles whose centre is 15 cm far from the bottom side and 15 cm from the fly. Radius of one circle 8 cm and of the other circle 4 cm.

Note 1: The main Israeli legislation is divided into Ordinances (dating back to the Mandate era) and Acts.

Note 2: Here (and also in the civil ensign), the legislation came to replace previous legislation which had also the flag mentioned there. The civil ensign was probably adopted shortly after May 1948, and the customs flag replaced the Mandate era one at approximately same date.

Note 3: Meaning Customs and Excise.

Dov Gutterman, 26 August 2001

There are only three flags in Israel's (main) legislation, the national flag, the civil ensign and the Customs flag (and Customs jack). While the first two are original Israeli flags, the Israel customs flag and jack is a replacement to the British Mandate Customs jack. (...) Both flags were adopted 13 September 1930 and abolished 14 May 1948 by the Israeli customs flag. It was probably done by an ammendment to the Customs Rules above, which later were replaced by the Customs Regulations 5766-1965.
Here are scans of the flag image in that regulation and a close-up of the inscription.
Dov Gutterman
, 5 and 8 September 2001


Flag at World Intellectual Property Organisation

I have seen the Customs flag of Israel and found a source that seems completely different to the present image.This flag is from World Intellectual Property Organisation and can be seen at <www.wipo.int/il6.jpg>. The document that support this image can be obtained at <www.wipo.int/e0674.pdf>.
The document is from 25th of August 1967 and was signed by the Deputy Director of (then) BIRPI - United International Bureaux for the Protection of Intellectual Property Mr. Ch.-L. Magnin. The document bears the circular number 674.
Goran Imbrisic, 30 April 2008

The basic problem with this flag of the Israeli Customs Service is that it is reversed. The canton showing the national flag is at the hoist and not at the fly.
Ron Lahav, 30 April 2008

To me, that art work of WIPO would suggest the original request just showed the flag, and someone at WIPO drew a version with a staff so as to make clear that it was a flag, not realising it ought to have been a sinister hoist.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 30 April 2008

We have the entire legislation introducing this flag translated - 1967 Regulations include the drawing (but without the indictaion of where the staff should be), but the text of the Regulation is clear, the IL flag is "In the upper left corner of the flag, next to the hoist".
We have no reason to believe that the pre-1967 flag was any different from the post-1967 flag - the entire corpus of IL flags and flag proposals do not give any hint for the theory that the IL flag was set in the fly canton of any flag, so my assumption to the WIPO document is  - it is just a bireaucratic error made by whatever the office was responsible for sending the images to WIPO - setting the flag staf on the wrong side of the image - without consulting the text of the decision.
I am confident that we may easily dismiss that as a possibility, providing only a note on what we presume to be an error in WIPO documents (i.e. documents provided to WIPO).
Željko Heimer, 2 May 2008

However, the WIPO illustration suggest that the badge on the flag is shown incorrectly. The law says: "The words Me'hes U'Blo [note 3]: embroidered in white between two concentrical circles ..." but it doesn't specifiy their exact placement- two words oriented separately, both right side up; or the words just following around the perimeter of the circle, i.e. the lower word upside down. Despite the WIPO version possibly messing up the hoist placement, I would think it less likely that they would be incorrect on two separate elements, and so the badge version shown on the WIPO image would be more likely to be correct.
Ned Smith, 2 May 2008

As Željko wrote, the legislation is clear. The flag at 1965 legislation is the same as announced on May 1948 as the replacement for the Mandate era flag.
However, there is a change in the badge as the lower word (U'Blo) is written upside down at the legislation and its image, and upside up at this image.
For sure, this is a mistake of the image maker. However, it may suggest that the actual flag in use may had the same mistake.
The flag itself is not of use anymore.
Dov Gutterman, 3 May 2008



 
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