IDF, police bust gun-running operation on Jordanian border, seize 53 firearms

Cops arrest 4 suspects; guns were likely to be sold to Arab Israelis for criminal purposes; separately, soldiers and police prevent smuggling attempt on Lebanese frontier

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Israeli security forces arrested four people suspected of smuggling guns into Israel from Jordan Tuesday, confiscating dozens of firearms in the process, the military and police said.

In a smaller, unrelated bust, soldiers and police officers also prevented a smuggling attempt along the Lebanese border on Tuesday afternoon, seizing two packages of drugs and a handgun, the military said.

According to the IDF, 39 handguns, 10 Kalashnikov rifles and four M-16 rifles were found inside vehicles stopped along the main highway running along Israel’s long border with Jordan.

“Israel Defense Forces troops and troops from the Israel Police identified three suspicious vehicles a short while ago, which were caught in the area of the Route 90 highway, with weapons inside them,” the military said.

The police said four people who were in the cars were arrested and the three vehicles were seized.

The police indicated that the guns were likely to have been sold to Arab Israelis, and estimated the value of the 53 guns at some NIS 3 million ($940,000).

“This confiscation is another success for the Northern District Police in finding sources of illegal weapons for the Arab community, while eliminating smuggling routes and the trade through them,” the police said.

The four suspects — three men and a woman — were identified by police as residents of East Jerusalem.

Police said they were arrested after a short chase around the city of Beit She’an, northeast of the West Bank and just next to the Jordanian border.

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 location for large-scale smuggling.

The IDF has stepped up efforts to halt smuggling attempts along the Jordanian border in recent months, but officials have admitted that the military has failed to achieve much success thus far.

As the Lebanese economy has been rocked by an ongoing, devastating financial crisis in recent years, the IDF has also noted increased drug and gun smuggling along the Lebanese border as well. This is of particular concern for the IDF, as the smuggling routes could potentially be used by the Hezbollah terror group for attacks.

The Israel Police have increasingly sought to crack down on the until-now unmitigated spread of illegal weapons in the Arab Israeli community, which have been used to carry out record-breaking numbers of murders in recent years.

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