2 Arab Israelis charged for trying to smuggle bombs into West Bank for Islamic Jihad

Security forces on Jordanian border nabbed pair, who resided in Tulkarem area, with 4 Claymore-style mines, 4 handguns

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Four Claymore-style mines seized by Israeli security forces on the border with Jordan, August 3, 2023. (Israel Police)
Four Claymore-style mines seized by Israeli security forces on the border with Jordan, August 3, 2023. (Israel Police)

Two Arab Israeli men were charged on Tuesday for attempting to smuggle explosive devices and firearms into the West Bank on behalf of the Islamic Jihad terror group, the Shin Bet security agency revealed.

According to the Shin Bet, on August 3, Samer Farid Ghanem Kanuh and Osama Nassim Ghazi Kharouf, both Israeli citizens, were arrested while attempting to smuggle four bombs — which appeared similar to the American directional anti-personnel Claymore mine — and four handguns over the Jordanian border. A third unnamed Palestinian suspect from Tulkarem was also detained with the pair, the Shin Bet said.

Kanuh, originally from the city of Qalansawe in central Israel, lived in the nearby West Bank city of Tulkarem. Kharouf, also an Israeli citizen, lived in the Palestinian village of Iktaba, on the outskirts of Tulkarem. Kharouf was previously known to the defense establishment for his affiliation with terror operatives, the Shin Bet said.

The agency said the pair were recruited by Islamic Jihad operatives in the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank, to smuggle the explosives and firearms from Jordan.

In their interrogation, it emerged that the pair were also involved in transferring weapons and funds to terror operatives in the Nur Shams refugee camp, near Tulkarem, the Shin Bet said, adding that they provided interrogators with details of planned attacks by Nur Shams-based terror groups.

The pair were charged on Tuesday with serious security offenses, prompting the Shin Bet to publish details of the case.

Four Claymore-style mines and four handguns seized by Israeli security forces on the border with Jordan, August 3, 2023. (Israel Police)

“This incident once again illustrates the efforts of terror elements to advance military activity against IDF forces and citizens of the State of Israel, including repeated attempts to smuggle weapons through the country’s borders,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.

“The Shin Bet, Israel Police, and IDF will continue to act with determination to detect and thwart any intention to smuggle weapons by hostile terror elements abroad,” the agency added.

On July 24, Israeli forces made a similar bust of Iranian-made explosive devices being smuggled into the country from Jordan.

Also in July, four Israeli citizens were arrested for suspected ties to the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, alleged involvement in smuggling Iranian-made explosive devices into the country. An image released by the Shin Bet showed one of the explosive devices, which also resembled a Claymore mine.

The agency said those explosives were intended to be used in underworld attacks, rather than for terrorism.

Similarly, an explosive device used in a bombing attack in northern Israel in March by a Hezbollah terrorist who infiltrated into Israel, resulting in the serious injury of one Israeli, was a Claymore-style mine.

View of the border between Israel and Jordan on the Route 90 highway in the Jordan Valley, July 6, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90, file)

The Israel-Jordan border is a hotbed of gun- and drug-smuggling attempts. According to police data, security authorities have seized at least 506 handguns, 24 assault rifles, and eight explosive devices, in 26 separate smuggling attempts on the Jordan border since the beginning of this year.

Officials say that weapons that have made it over the border — likely tens of thousands over the past decade — have fueled a surge in violence in the Arab community, and have been used by Palestinian terrorists in attacks against soldiers and civilians in the West Bank.

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