Israeli security forces arrested two men in northern Israel early Friday morning suspected of smuggling guns from Jordan, confiscating a dozen handguns in the process.
According to Israel Police and the Israel Defense Forces, the two men in their 30s from Bedouin villages in the Tel Arad area were caught after a brief chase near the town of Neve Ur and found to be in possession of 12 pistols.
Police said they had been following the pair for some time as part of an “undercover investigation” into smuggling attempts in the area. Friday’s arrest was a joint effort between various police and military units operating in the area.
Law enforcement officials have previously indicated that guns smuggled in from Jordan are often sold to Arab Israelis, for both criminal and terrorist purposes.
The military and police have stepped up efforts to halt smuggling attempts along the Jordanian border in recent months.
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.
Chief Superintendent Ronen Kalfon, commander of the police anti-smuggling Magen unit, said Friday’s incident was the eighth smuggling it had thwarted this year, with more than 150 weapons seized.
“This is a real arms race and we are burning the midnight oil in an ongoing struggle against this challenge,” Kalfon said.
Police said it and the military will “continue to work to maintain the security of Israel, and to prevent the smuggling of weapons that strengthen crime in the Negev and terror attacks in Judea and Samaria, harming civilian life.”
Authorities have increasingly sought to crack down on the unmitigated spread of illegal weapons in the Arab Israeli community, which have been used to carry out a record-breaking number of murders in recent years.
According to the Abraham Initiatives, a group lobbying against violence in the Arab community, last year 125 Arabs were killed in Israel in community violence — an all-time record. Since the beginning of 2022, another 52 have been killed in incidents of violence.