25 arrested on suspicion of weapons trafficking after 8-month undercover police op

Suspects include Palestinians from West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Israeli citizens; one woman used her citizenship to take weapons through checkpoints, police say

A man is arrested at an unspecified location as part of an undercover operation into illegal weapons, March 14, 2023 (Israel Police)
A man is arrested at an unspecified location as part of an undercover operation into illegal weapons, March 14, 2023 (Israel Police)

Police said Tuesday that 25 suspects had been arrested as part of an eight-month undercover operation into illegal weapons trafficking.

Thirty-one illegal firearms were taken as part of the undercover operation.

Some 400 officers were involved, and the suspects were detained in raids on Monday and Tuesday. They are set to appear at the Jerusalem District Court for hearings.

Police said an undercover agent worked among illegal weapon dealers in the central city of Lod, East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Police said he purchased 31 weapons with matching ammunition. That weaponry consisted of 22 pistols and nine M-16 assault rifles, plus three grenades. Some of the assault rifles had been converted from airsoft weaponry to the standard, more deadly version.

The weapons bought by the agent were taken to forensic laboratories for examination.

An undated photo taken at an unspecified location of weapons seized as part of an undercover operation into illegal weapons, March 14, 2023 (Israel Police)

The suspects include both Palestinians from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Israeli citizens.

Police said the suspects included a woman who used her Israeli citizenship to smuggle weapons through checkpoints.

The youngest suspect was 19 years old, and the oldest in his 50s, police said.

Three vehicles were also seized in the operation.

Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai praised the “impressive achievement of using an undercover agent who incriminated dozens of suspects for illegal crimes.”

“Many lives have been saved, as those weapons could have ended up in the wrong hands,” Shabtai said in a statement.

Jerusalem district police commander Doron Turgeman said the force was “fighting a war of attrition against illegal weapons and perpetrators of crime.”

“The activation of the agent made it possible to lift a veil and expose dozens of illegal drug dealers, incriminate them, arrest them and bring them to justice,” he said.

“More importantly, it kept dangerous weapons off the street – weapons that could lead to significant harm to human life. This is another important step in our ongoing fight against those criminals and against gun crime in Arab society,” he said.

Arab communities in Israel have seen a surge in violence in recent years, driven mainly, but not exclusively, by organized crime.

Arab Israelis say police have failed to crack down on powerful criminal organizations and for years largely ignored the violence, which includes family feuds, mafia turf wars, and attacks on women.

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