Israel nabs 2 Palestinian intel officers for making, selling guns
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Israel nabs 2 Palestinian intel officers for making, selling guns

In crackdown on illegal weapons in the West Bank, security forces seize firearms, ammo and equipment

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

A drill press confiscated by Israeli security forces , on July 10, 2016, that is believed to have been used in the production of illegal weapons in the West Bank village of Urif. (Shin Bet)
A drill press confiscated by Israeli security forces , on July 10, 2016, that is believed to have been used in the production of illegal weapons in the West Bank village of Urif. (Shin Bet)

Israeli forces arrested four Palestinian men outside of Nablus on Sunday night, including two members of the Palestinian security service, who are believed to be involved in the production and sale of illegal weapons in the West Bank and Israel, the Shin Bet security agency said.

Numerous guns, ammunition and four drill presses, believed to have been used to create improvised weapons, were also seized in the raid, which took place in the village of Urif, just south of Nablus in the northern West Bank, the Shin Bet said.

During the raid, Israeli forces picked up Assem Najah Sharif Safadi and Ali Najah Sharif Safadi, residents of Urif who serve as intelligence officers in the Palestinian Authority’s security service, the Shin Bet said.

Saadi Najah Sharif Safadi, 46, and Najah Assad Najah Safadi, 24, were also arrested in the crackdown, the security service said.

The four men appeared to be related to one another, but this could not be immediately confirmed with law enforcement.

“The assessment is that the above-mentioned took advantage of their connections to also sell [guns] to arms dealers in Israel,” the Shin Bet said.

The overnight raid was a joint operation conducted by the Shin Bet, the IDF’s Samaria Regional Brigade, the Nahal Infantry Brigade, the undercover Duvdevan Unit and the Israel Police’s Samaria Division.

A pistol found during a raid by Israeli security forces in Urif, outside of Nablus, as part of a crackdown on illegal weapons in the West Bank on July 10, 2016. (Shin Bet)
A pistol found during a raid by Israeli security forces in Urif, outside of Nablus, as part of a crackdown on illegal weapons in the West Bank on July 10, 2016. (Shin Bet)

In addition to the locally produced “Carlo” submachine guns, which are loosely based off the designs of the Swedish Carl Gustav submachine gun, Israeli forces found pistols and components of M-16 assault rifles.

“This move is part of an ongoing effort against the production and sale of weaponry in the West Bank,” the Shin Bet said.

Part of an M-16 assault rifle found during a raid by Israeli security forces in Urif, outside of Nablus, as part of a crackdown on illegal weapons in the West Bank on July 10, 2016. (Shin Bet)
Part of an M-16 assault rifle found during a raid by Israeli security forces in Urif, outside of Nablus, as part of a crackdown on illegal weapons in the West Bank on July 10, 2016. (Shin Bet)

In the past two weeks, the Palestinian Authority has also begun cracking down on illegal guns in Nablus and Jenin, following a number of internal conflicts that left several dead in the West Bank, the Palestinian Ma’an news site reported Monday.

However, the Shin Bet denied any connection or collaboration between the Israel and Palestinian forces in the effort.

The Carlo-style submachine gun has been the scourge of Israeli law enforcement throughout the recent violence in the West Bank and Israel. The easily produced but deadly weapon has been used in multiple Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians and security forces in the past year.

Israeli security forces at the scene where a terrorist opened fire at the Sarona Market shopping center in Tel Aviv, on June 8, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Israeli security forces at the scene where a terrorist opened fire at the Sarona Market shopping center in Tel Aviv, on June 8, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Last month, two cousins from the village of Yatta opened fire in a Tel Aviv restaurant with such weapons, killing four and wounding over a dozen others, before they could be arrested.

The often fully automatic Carlo can be created from nothing more than a water pipe and some basic tools, including the types of drill presses seized in Sunday night’s raid.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, IDF soldiers arrested seven other Palestinians overnight, six of them for rock throwing and taking part in violent protests and one for undisclosed reasons, the army said.

The IDF is currently conducting a manhunt in the southern West Bank for a gunman who opened fire at Israeli car on a highway between settlements Saturday night, lightly injuring one man.

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