IDF, police foil gun, drug smuggling operation; Hezbollah involvement suspected
2 pistols and 9kg of hashish worth $110,000 seized near northern border, believed to have been brought into Israel from Lebanon
Israeli security forces on Saturday said they thwarted an operation to smuggle drugs and weapons from Lebanon, potentially on behalf of the Hezbollah terrorist organization.
Israel Police and Israel Defense Forces said two pistols and 21 packages containing around 9 kg of hashish with a value of around NIS 350,000 (approximately $109,000) were seized in the operation.
The IDF said that suspects were observed close to the northern border town of Metula, at which point troops were dispatched to the scene where they seized the contraband.
Police said they opened an investigation into the incident. There were no reports of arrests.
“The possibility that the [smuggling] attempt was made with the help of the terrorist organization Hezbollah is being examined,” the IDF said in a statement.
Hezbollah has long maintained control over the area adjacent to the border with Israel and is unlikely to be unaware of smuggling operations.
The terror group is known to fund its activities through drug sales around the world, including producing large amounts of hashish in eastern Lebanon.
In June, the IDF said it arrested an Arab Israeli father and son suspected of smuggling a large amount of hashish and firearms into Israel from Lebanon, also potentially on behalf of Hezbollah.
The suspects were found in possession of 15 handguns, dozens of ammunition magazines and some 36 kilograms (80 pounds) of hashish. In total, the IDF said the contraband was worth roughly NIS 2 million ($616,000).
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 from the June haul were meant to be used in terror attacks orchestrated by Hezbollah. Israeli officials refused to elaborate on how they reached this conclusion.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.