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IDF, police seize 10 handguns from Palestinian gun smugglers in Jordan Valley

Three Hebron men arrested near West Bank town of al-Auja in latest gun-running operation on Jordanian border

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

Weapons seized by security forces near al-Auja in the West Bank, after an alleged gun-smuggling over the border with Jordan on May 2, 2022. (Israel Police)
Weapons seized by security forces near al-Auja in the West Bank, after an alleged gun-smuggling over the border with Jordan on May 2, 2022. (Israel Police)

Israeli security forces arrested three Palestinian men near the West Bank city of Jericho on Wednesday suspected of smuggling guns from Jordan, confiscating several handguns in the process.

According to Israel Police and the Israel Defense Forces, the two Hebron-area residents in their 30s were caught near the Palestinian town of al-Auja and found to be in possession of 10 handguns.

Police said they suspected the two men were headed to Israel with the weapons. 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 value of the handguns seized on Wednesday was estimated at some NIS 250,000 ($74,000), police officials said.

The three Palestinian men were to be brought before a Beersheba court later on Wednesday for an extension of their remand.

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

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.

On Monday, 20 firearms apparently smuggled over the Jordanian border were seized in southern Israel. Two Palestinians from Bethlehem were arrested.

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 record-breaking numbers of murders in recent years.

According to the Abraham Initiatives, a non-government 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 27 have been killed in incidents of violent crime.

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