Border Police bust gun trafficking ring
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Border Police bust gun trafficking ring

Suspects allegedly smuggled and sold IDF weapons in West Bank; police say arms and ammunition used in terror attacks

IDF soldiers, along with the police and Shin Bet security service, seize dozens of illegal weapons in Bethlehem and Hebron on August 23, 2016, as part of a large crackdown effort on illicit guns in the West Bank. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
IDF soldiers, along with the police and Shin Bet security service, seize dozens of illegal weapons in Bethlehem and Hebron on August 23, 2016, as part of a large crackdown effort on illicit guns in the West Bank. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

Israel’s Border Police arrested four members of an alleged cell on suspicion of weapons smuggling and trafficking, police said Wednesday.

According to the police, two of the men arrested, both residents of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, acquired military grade weapons and ammunition used by the IDF and smuggled them to the West Bank, where they were subsequently sold to various sources, including the Palestinian Authority.

The weapons and ammunition sold by the suspects were allegedly used in terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces. The police did not specify which shootings the weapons and ammunition were used in, or whether the guns and bullets used were supplied to the attackers by the Palestinian Authority.

The police said that the two men from Hebron were arrested while illegally staying in Israel, while another two of the detainees are residents of Israel’s south.

The arrests were made Tuesday, police said.

Since a nearly year-long wave of terrorist attacks began in October 2015, Israeli security forces have carried out nightly arrests of Palestinians in the West Bank possessing weapons and involved in gun running.

Israeli soldiers seize a drill press from a workshop allegedly used to manufacture illegal guns in the West Bank city of Jenin, early in the morning on November 8, 2016. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
Israeli soldiers seize a drill press from a workshop allegedly used to manufacture illegal guns in the West Bank city of Jenin, early in the morning on November 8, 2016. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

While many of the hundreds of weapons captured were army issue, others were improvised weapons built in illegal gun making workshops. Their street value is significantly less than higher quality guns such as a M-16 rifle, making them easier to acquire.

This year alone, the IDF has shut down approximately 40 of such workshops, which manufactured guns such as those used in the Sarona Market shooting attack in Tel Aviv in June, and which have became ubiquitous throughout the West Bank during the recent terror wave.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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