Checkers at a West Bank crossing arrested a truck driver and his passenger on Sunday evening, after finding a gun and large amounts of ammunition hidden inside the vehicle, the Defense Ministry said.
The two men “aroused the suspicion” of a security officer at the Te’enim checkpoint between Israel and the northern West Bank, the ministry said in a statement.
During an initial search of the truck, checkers found a large number of bullets, packed in plastic bags. A police sapper who was then called to assist in the search also found a locally produced makeshift submachine gun, known as a Carlo, which had been hidden inside the side panels of the truck, the ministry said.
Both the driver and his passenger were placed under arrest and handed over to the Shin Bet security service for questioning. The gun and bullets were also given to the Shin Bet for study.
Sunday’s thwarted smuggling came as Israeli police announced that they had foiled an apparent plot to smuggle handguns into Israel from Jordan earlier this month, details of which were kept under gag order until this week.
On February 7, Border Police officers spotted the primary suspect, a Palestinian man from the Nablus area, as he attempted to cross the border into northern Israel from Jordan wearing a large backpack.
The border guards, assisted by the Israel Defense Forces, arrested the man shortly after he crossed into the northern Jordan Valley and found inside his bag 37 pistols of various types, police said.
The police arrested three other Palestinian suspects — all from the Nablus area — whom they believe were planning to pick up the suspect after he crossed the border.
“We noticed a few suspicious cars driving around the road and after a few hours of activity, using advanced means and special technologies, we spotted the suspect cross the Israeli border into Jordan and, a few hours later, we saw the suspect cross back into Israel with a bag on his back,” the commander of the Border Police unit said in a statement.
“At that point, I ordered troops to arrest the suspect and the suspects that were in the cars. In the bag, we found 37 pistols of different types and we thereby succeeded in thwarting the smuggling,” he said.