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IDF intercepts guns intended for terror on Jordanian border near Dead Sea

Two men from southern Bedouin town arrested last month with four pistols, three M16 rifles; their Shin Bet interrogation leads authorities to two more suspects

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Firearms seized by Israeli soldiers during an alleged smuggling attempt on the border with Jordan, near the Dead Sea, on May 22, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
Firearms seized by Israeli soldiers during an alleged smuggling attempt on the border with Jordan, near the Dead Sea, on May 22, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces announced Tuesday it had foiled an attempt to smuggle several firearms into Israel from Jordan last month, in what authorities suspected was part of a terror plot.

According to the IDF, on the night of May 22, soldiers monitoring surveillance cameras identified suspects approaching the Israeli border near the Dead Sea, and dispatched troops to the scene.

Two men — a-Rahman Abu Sabih and Majid Qashkar — from a Bedouin village near the southern city of Dimona were arrested, and a bag containing four handguns and four M16 rifles was seized, the IDF said.

Israeli authorities said they suspect the weapons were intended for terror purposes, rather than criminal.

The pair were questioned by the Shin Bet security agency, which led to the arrest of two other suspects, Mohammed Qashkar and Salman Aluj, who allegedly led gun-running operations on the Jordanian border, the military said.

All four were expected to be indicted in the coming days, and their remand was extended until the end of legal proceedings.

The military and police have stepped up efforts to halt smuggling attempts along the Jordanian border in recent months, but some officials have admitted that success has been limited thus far.

Last week, security forces arrested two men, also from Bedouin villages near Dimona, suspected of smuggling guns from Jordan, confiscating over a dozen rifles and handguns in the process.

Police said they had been following a network of gun smugglers in the area for several months, with last week’s suspects being part of that network.

Unlike Israel’s other frontiers — with Egypt, Lebanon and Syria — its border with Jordan is largely open, often without significant fencing, and is relatively unguarded, making it an easy channel for large-scale smuggling.

“The IDF, Shin Bet, and Israel Police view any involvement of Israeli citizens in smuggling weapons into Israeli territory very seriously, thereby endangering the security of the state and its residents,” a joint message said.

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