ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 145

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After video of Bedouin gunfire on the roads goes viral, police promise action

Police arrest members of wedding party, including the groom, for shooting M-16 assault rifles out of their car windows in celebration, while driving

Bedouins seen shooting M-16s into the air on April 20, 2018, during a wedding procession near Ohalim Junction on Route 40. (Screencapture)
Bedouins seen shooting M-16s into the air on April 20, 2018, during a wedding procession near Ohalim Junction on Route 40. (Screencapture)

Police said Sunday they were stepping up efforts to combat illegal weapons after a video of a Bedouin wedding party firing M-16 assault rifles out of their car windows in the southern Negev went viral.

In a statement, police said several members of the wedding party seen in the video shooting the assault rifles in the air from their cars on Route 40 near Ohalim Junction in the south of the country have been identified and arrested. Police said the groom was among those detained, and had been transferred to the central police station in Tel Aviv for questioning.

The video was widely shared on social media in Israel over the weekend, sparking outrage over the apparent lawlessness.

The statement said that recent police measures to combat illicit arms dealing and “wild driving” in Israel had yielded progress over the last year.

In 2017, police said they seized “unprecedented” numbers of illegal weapons, “especially in Arab communities.”

The police statement said 2,225 Israelis were arrested in 2017 for various weapons offenses, and 1,137 of those were eventually indicted, a 42 percent increase from the year before.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Sunday called the shots fired in Friday’s wedding procession video a “serious incident” and called for swift police action against the “bullies who were documented firing wildly in a life-threatening manner.”

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan attends an Internal Affairs committee meeting in the Knesset, October 31, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Army bases in the Negev desert are routinely robbed, often by Bedouin Israelis who live nearby. Though the problem is well known, it has gone mostly unaddressed. Due to their locations — far from cities and towns — there is generally limited police presence in the area, and the military is limited in its ability to arrest would-be thieves.

Earlier on Sunday, police announced that two Bedouin Israelis had been arrested last month for allegedly selling guns that were stolen from army bases to a Palestinian weapons dealer in the West Bank.

— Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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