IDF shuts down suspected gunsmithing workshop, seizes cars
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IDF shuts down suspected gunsmithing workshop, seizes cars

Army arrests 26 Palestinians over two-day period, cracks down on sources of materials used in terror attacks

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

IDF troops raid a suspected gunsmithing workshop in the West Bank village of Bayt Liqya on February 16, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
IDF troops raid a suspected gunsmithing workshop in the West Bank village of Bayt Liqya on February 16, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

As part of its ongoing crackdown on illegal guns in the West Bank, the IDF shuttered a workshop suspected of being used to craft weapons in the central West Bank early Thursday morning, the army said.

Soldiers also confiscated the tools inside the workshop, located in Bayt Liqya, a village outside Ramallah, the military said.

For the past year, the Israel Defense Forces, working alongside the Israel Police and Shin Bet security service, has been moving up the supply chain and cracking down more heavily on the sources of terror — arresting more gun makers and sellers, rather than gun owners, for instance — in an attempt to prevent attacks.

Despite this crackdown, Palestinian shooting attacks using improvised submachine guns have persisted. Last week, a Palestinian man opened fire at a bus outside a market in the central Israeli town of Petah Tikva, in an attack that left five people injured.

Tools confiscated by the Israeli army from a suspected gunsmithing workshop in the West Bank village of Bayt Liqya on February 16, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
Tools confiscated by the Israeli army from a suspected gunsmithing workshop in the West Bank village of Bayt Liqya on February 16, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

However, the army has seen an impact on the illegal gun trade, with the price for one of these homemade weapons tripling over the course of 2016, an intelligence officer in the army’s West Bank division told reporters last month.

The officer also noted that the army is cracking down not only on illegal weapons but also on terror funds and on unregistered cars used to transport people to violent protests and rock throwing attacks on West Bank highways.

On Tuesday night and Wednesday, the army seized some 15 of those cars. Of the total, 12 came from Husan, a suburb of Bethlehem, the army said. Husan, which is located along Route 375, is often the site of rock throwing attacks on Israeli cars driving along the highway.

Unregistered automobiles confiscated by the IDF from the Palestinian village of Husan, outside Bethlehem, early in the morning on February 15, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
Unregistered automobiles confiscated by the IDF from the Palestinian village of Husan, outside Bethlehem, early in the morning on February 15, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

In addition to the seizures of illegal cars, the army also arrested two residents of Husan on Wednesday for taking part in “popular terrorism,” the army said, using a term that generally refers to rock throwing and taking part in violent protests.

The Palestinian Ma’an news outlet reported that the army also would not allow several residents of the village to enter the adjacent Beitar Illit settlement where they work, as part of a punitive measure against the relatives of rock throwers.

The other three cars were seized in the northern West Bank village of Bil’in. According to the army, the cars were used “to illegally disturb the peace.” One Palestinian suspect was also arrested in Bil’in, the army said.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, Israeli troops arrested some 23 Palestinians from Tuesday night to Thursday.

Twenty of them were picked up for allegedly taking part in this “popular terrorism,” the military said. The other three Palestinians arrested are suspected of belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization, according to the IDF.

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