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IDF, police seize 24 handguns from Palestinian gun smuggler in Jordan Valley

Security forces also find 800,000 Jordanian dinars in cash on suspect caught near West Bank settlement

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

Handguns and cash seized by Israeli security forces during a gun-smuggling attempt along the border with Jordan on April 25, 2022. (Israel Police)
Handguns and cash seized by Israeli security forces during a gun-smuggling attempt along the border with Jordan on April 25, 2022. (Israel Police)

Israeli security forces arrested on Monday morning a Palestinian man suspected of smuggling guns into the West Bank from Jordan, confiscating two dozen handguns, the military and police said.

According to the Israel Police, 24 handguns and 800,000 Jordanian dinars ($1.1 million) in cash were found in a bag carried by the 29-year-old from Jericho, near the settlement of Argaman, close to the border with Jordan.

Soldiers operating surveillance cameras spotted the suspect approaching the border from the Jordanian side overnight, the military said. Police said officers set up an ambush in an open area near the settlement and waited for the suspect to cross the border.

Law enforcement officials have previously indicated that guns smuggled in from Jordan are likely to have been sold to Arab Israelis, for both criminal and terror purposes.

The value of the handguns seized on Monday was estimated at some NIS 1 million ($305,000), police officials said.

The IDF 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.

Officers inspect a bag seized by Israeli security forces during a gun-smuggling attempt along the border with Jordan on April 25, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

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 police on Monday said its Northern District was “spearheading” the effort to counter smuggling attempts from Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and areas of the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority.

Earlier this month, some 30 firearms apparently smuggled over the Jordanian border were seized.

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, 125 Arabs — an all-time record — were killed in Israel in 2021 as a result of violence and crime. Since the beginning of this year, another 25 have been killed in incidents of violent crime.

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