Israeli security forces arrested two people suspected of smuggling guns and drugs into Israel from Jordan last week, confiscating a large number of firearms in the process, the military and police announced Thursday.
According to Israel Police, 34 handguns, two assault rifles, a sniper rifle, 16,000 rounds of ammunition and ecstasy pills were found in bags left behind by the two men near the border last Friday.
Soldiers operating surveillance cameras spotted the two suspicious men crossing the border near the Dead Sea, and after a brief chase the smugglers were arrested at the Ha’arava Junction, police said.
Law enforcement officials said the suspects were around 25 years old, from a southern Bedouin town. They were taken for questioning, and their remand is expected to be extended further on Thursday.
Police indicated that the guns were likely to have been sold to Palestinians in the Hebron area for both criminal and terror purposes.
Officials estimated the value of the guns at some NIS 1.7 million ($525,000), and the drugs at approximately NIS 800,000 ($245,000).
“This confiscation is another success of the cooperation between Israel Police and IDF forces… in preventing the smuggling of illegal weapons over the border, which are suspected to reach terror and criminal elements,” police said in a statement.
The IDF has stepped up efforts to halt smuggling attempts along the Jordanian border in recent months.
Authorities have increasingly sought to crack down on the 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.