IDF captures 100-kilogram drug shipment on border with Egypt

Troops seize sacks of drugs after lookouts spot smugglers on opposite side of fence

Around 100 kilograms of drugs that were intercepted during a smuggling attempt from Egypt, January 8, 2022 (Israel Defense Forces)
Around 100 kilograms of drugs that were intercepted during a smuggling attempt from Egypt, January 8, 2022 (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israeli military said it intercepted a large drug shipment on Israel’s border with Egypt overnight Friday-Saturday.

The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement that “lookouts identified a number of suspects attempting to smuggle drugs from Egyptian territory into Israel.”

“IDF troops acted to thwart the smuggling and captured around 100 kilograms [220 pounds] of drugs that were transferred to police,” the statement said.

A photo showed canvas sacks, sewed shut, lying on the desert ground. The statement did not say what kind of drugs were seized.

The Israeli-Egyptian border has been used for years as a smuggling corridor, particularly for marijuana, but for other drugs as well.

Egypt’s Sinai peninsula shares a long border with southern Israel.

Israeli troops guard along the security fence on the Israel-Egypt border, November 2012. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The restive northern part of the Sinai has been the scene of fierce fighting between Egyptian forces and terror groups, including an Islamic State insurgency, in recent years.

Criminal groups in the semi-lawless, arid region smuggle drugs by tossing them over the fence to Israeli counterparts.

Parts of southern Israel’s Negev region are seen as anarchic, and poverty in Bedouin communities there is tied to local crime. Bedouin groups also live on the Egyptian side of the border.

Last month, the IDF thwarted an attempt to smuggle 120 kilograms (265 pounds) of drugs across the border. The shipment’s estimated worth was NIS 2 million ($650,000).

In November, Israeli troops shot a suspected smuggler and lightly injured him.

The IDF recently updated its rules of engagement to allow soldiers to more easily open fire at suspected thieves and smugglers, in a bid to crack down on crime.

Though the IDF is tasked with preventing smuggling along the Israeli-Egyptian border, the military typically strives to avoid direct confrontation with drug smugglers.

Israel and Egypt cooperate on security matters in the Sinai and along the border.

The southern part of the Sinai, along the Red Sea coast, is peaceful and a popular tourist destination for Israelis.

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