Israel hands over Jordanian MP who allegedly smuggled 200 guns into West Bank

Shin Bet says Imad al-Adwan smuggled contraband, including firearms, 12 times since February 2022 using his diplomatic passport in exchange for ‘large sums of money’

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

This combination picture shows Jordanian MP Imad al-Adwan, arrested at the Allenby Bridge border crossing, and handguns allegedly seized from him on April 23, 2023 (Jordanian media; courtesy)
This combination picture shows Jordanian MP Imad al-Adwan, arrested at the Allenby Bridge border crossing, and handguns allegedly seized from him on April 23, 2023 (Jordanian media; courtesy)

A Jordanian parliamentarian arrested by Israeli authorities last month for attempting to smuggle over 200 firearms into the West Bank was released on Sunday to face trial back home.

The Shin Bet security agency said MP Imad al-Adwan, detained at the Allenby Bridge border crossing on April 22, was handed over to Jordanian authorities for “further investigation and prosecution.”

Al-Adwan was caught with 194 handguns and 12 assault rifles at the Allenby crossing as he was heading into the West Bank by car.

According to the Shin Bet investigation, al-Adwan had smuggled various types of contraband into the West Bank 12 times starting in February 2022. The illegal goods included birds, electronic cigarettes, and gold.

This year, al-Adwan smuggled firearms into Israel several times before being caught in April, the Shin Bet said.

The investigation found that al-Adwan carried out the smuggling using his diplomatic passport, and was receiving “large sums of money.” His motives were financial, and not related to Palestinian nationalism, according to the investigation.

Jordanian authorities detained a number of suspects in Jordan who were involved in the smuggling, the Shin Bet said.

Al-Adwan was released to Jordanian authorities on Sunday despite Israel and Jordan not having an extradition agreement. His parliamentary immunity was lifted, according to Jordanian media, enabling him to stand trial.

Israel tried to avoid placing responsibility for the alleged smuggling attempt directly on Amman. “I don’t think that the episode is connected to Jordan in general, but to an irresponsible criminal act,” said Foreign Minister Eli Cohen last month in an interview with the Ynet news outlet. “I don’t want to assign guilt to the entire government or the entire parliament.”

A surge of violence and terror attacks has wracked the West Bank in recent months, aided by a flood of illegal weapons, including many guns smuggled from Jordan.

The incident came amid already elevated tensions between Amman and Jerusalem, particularly over the Temple Mount.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi refused to answer calls from his counterpart Cohen after news of the incident broke.

In April, an unnamed senior Israeli official told the Walla news site that Safadi’s recent conduct and statements had exacerbated the crisis in bilateral ties, adding that he “acted like a Jordanian [Itamar] Ben Gvir” — a reference to the far-right Israeli national security minister, whose conduct and policies have been widely viewed as contributing to growing friction with the US and other countries.

Lazar Berman contributed to this report. 

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