In West Bank raids, IDF shutters gun workshop, ‘inciting’ printer
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In West Bank raids, IDF shutters gun workshop, ‘inciting’ printer

Troops arrest 19 Palestinian suspects, mostly for rock throwing, amid uptick in attacks on Israeli civilians, soldiers

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

An IDF soldier welds shut a workshop suspected of being used to manufacture illegal guns in Hebron on January 30, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
An IDF soldier welds shut a workshop suspected of being used to manufacture illegal guns in Hebron on January 30, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

In raids across the West Bank, the IDF shuttered an alleged gunsmithing workshop, confiscated “inciting” materials and arrested 19 Palestinian suspects on Sunday night and early Monday morning, the army said.

The operations came amid an uptick in Palestinian protests and attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers in the West Bank in the past week, including two drive-by shooting attacks and a failed car-ramming.

Army forces, working alongside the Shin Bet and Israel Police, closed a machine shop suspected of being used to manufacture guns in Hebron, as part of an ongoing crackdown on makeshift weapons in the West Bank.

Last week, an IDF intelligence officer told reporters the effort was already having an effect on the market, tripling the price of Carlo-style submachine guns — the most popular variety of makeshift firearm — in eight months.

IDF troops stand guard as their comrades shutter a workshop suspected of being used to manufacture illegal guns in Hebron on January 30, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
IDF troops stand guard as their comrades shutter a workshop suspected of being used to manufacture illegal guns in Hebron on January 30, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

During 2016, the IDF closed 44 alleged gunsmithing operations and seized more than 450 weapons in the West Bank. Yet the army’s fight is far from over, the officer added, noting that the IDF estimated there to be “hundreds of thousands” of illegal guns still in circulation on West Bank streets.

Also overnight, in Ramallah, the army shut down two printing shops, which it said were publishing “materials being used for incitement to terrorism.”

The IDF said the two shops also had ties to the Hamas terrorist organization.

Israeli political and defense officials have often cited incitement as a central motivator behind the stabbing, car-ramming and shooting attacks that have become routine in Israel and the West Bank since October 2015.

IDF soldiers weld shut a printing shop suspected of being used to publish 'inciting' materials in Ramllah on January 30, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
IDF soldiers weld shut a printing shop suspected of being used to publish ‘inciting’ materials in Ramllah on January 30, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

The incitement in question, in print, online and on Palestinian television, generally glorifies terrorists and their actions, encourages others to follow in their footsteps or spreads misinformation.

“The ‘fake news’ started here in this burst of violence,” the IDF intelligence officer said last week.

In all, Israeli troops arrested 19 Palestinian suspects in arrest raids throughout the West Bank. Two of them were picked up for allegedly belonging to Hamas. The rest were brought in for so-called “popular terrorism,” a catch-all term for rock throwing and violent protests.

The two suspected Hamas members were arrested in Bidu, just north of the Jerusalem, the army said.

On Monday morning, the IDF also released a video and additional information about the arrest of four Palestinian men who are believed to have thrown Molotov cocktails at the Beit El settlement, near Ramallah, earlier this month.

According to the army, on January 12, a soldier monitoring surveillance cameras near Beit El spotted a vehicle approach the community and someone inside the car lob a firebomb at its fence.

IDF troops gave chase, but to no avail, as the perpetrators abandoned the vehicle and continued on foot.

On January 15, Israeli soldiers arrested four men in the Jalazoun refugee camp, outside Ramallah, who are suspected of throwing the Molotov cocktails.

They were handed over to the Israel Police for further questioning, the army said.

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