Israel says it foiled ‘irregular’ weapons smuggling from Jordan

Incident occurred last week near Ashdot Ya’akov; many details, including type of contraband, barred from publication

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

Illustrative: The border fence between Israel and Jordan in the Jordan Valley, March 19, 2023. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
Illustrative: The border fence between Israel and Jordan in the Jordan Valley, March 19, 2023. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

The military on Sunday cleared for publication that security forces had foiled an unusual weapons smuggling attempt into Israel from Jordan last week.

Few details about the incident, which occurred on Monday near the Jordan Valley town of Ashdot Ya’akov, were initially permitted for publication.

The smuggling was described to The Times of Israel as “irregular,” and not similar to previous, and frequent, smuggling attempts on the Jordanian border.

The contraband was seized by troops of the 417th Regional Brigade and members of the Matilan Border Police counterterrorism unit. The type of weapon and its origins were not immediately cleared for publication amid the ongoing investigation.

Authorities investigating the incident believe the weapons were being spirited in for use by terror groups in the West Bank.

Weapon smuggling from Jordan is a constant challenge for Israel, along its long, porous eastern border, and in the West Bank. Officials believe most guns are being used in underworld crime, and have vowed to crack down as part of an effort to end years of bloodshed in the Arab community.

The military and police have stepped up efforts to halt smuggling attempts along the Jordanian border over the past two years, and have begun to report some success.

Unlike Israel’s other frontiers — with Egypt, Lebanon and Syria — the border with Jordan is largely open, often without significant fencing, and guarding is limited, making it an easy channel for large-scale smuggling.

In April, a Jordanian parliamentarian was arrested by Israeli authorities for attempting to smuggle over 200 firearms into the West Bank using his diplomatic passport. He was released home several weeks later, where he faced charges.

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