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IDF foils gun, hashish smuggling operation; Hezbollah involvement suspected

2 Arab Israeli men arrested in possession of 15 pistols, dozens of ammunition magazines, 36 kilos of drugs, all believed to have been brought into Israel from Lebanon

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

An Israeli investigator unwraps bricks of hashish smuggled into the country from Lebanon on June 2, 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)
An Israeli investigator unwraps bricks of hashish smuggled into the country from Lebanon on June 2, 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli security forces on Wednesday arrested an Arab Israeli father and son suspected of smuggling a large amount of hashish and firearms into Israel from Lebanon, potentially on behalf of the Hezbollah terrorist organization, the military said.

The suspects were found in possession of 15 handguns, dozens of ammunition magazines and some 36 kilograms (80 pounds) of hashish, a processed form of marijuana. In total, the Israel Defense Forces said the contraband was worth roughly NIS 2 million ($616,000).

“The IDF is investigating — among other things — whether the smuggling attempt was done with assistance from the Hezbollah terror group,” the military said.

Though most illegal firearms in Israel are used for criminal purposes, not necessarily for terrorism, Israeli security services believed that at least some of the pistols were meant to be used in terror attacks orchestrated by Hezbollah. Israeli officials refused to elaborate on how they reached this conclusion.

According to police, the two suspects were a father and son from the Arab town of Jadeidi-Makr in northern Israel.

The military said the smuggling attempt was spotted on Wednesday morning by a soldier operating a surveillance camera along the border, who called a police unit to arrest a man walking away from the frontier.

The officers arrested the 24-year-old man, who was carrying bags containing the guns and hashish. Additional officers searched the area and found the man’s father waiting in a car nearby.

An Israeli investigator weighs a brick of hashish that was smuggled into the country from Lebanon on June 2, 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)

The police said the arrest was part of an effort by its Northern District to focus on arresting gun smugglers and distributors and not just on the buyers in order to “dry up the swamp and not just catch the mosquitoes.”

Hezbollah has long maintained control over the area adjacent to the border with Israel and is unlikely to have been unaware of such a smuggling operation.

The terror group is known to fund its activities through drug sales around the world, including producing large amounts of hashish in eastern Lebanon.

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