Israeli forces foil effort to smuggle in firearms from Jordan, near Dead Sea

Three assault rifles, three handguns seized by soldiers and police officers, no suspects arrested; law enforcement believe arms intended for both criminal and terror purposes

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

Weapons seized by security forces along the border with Jordan, August 24, 2022. (Israel Police)
Weapons seized by security forces along the border with Jordan, August 24, 2022. (Israel Police)

Israeli security forces thwarted a gun-smuggling attempt along the Jordanian border near the Dead Sea on Tuesday night, seizing three assault rifles and three handguns.

The Israel Defense Forces said soldiers operating surveillance cameras identified four suspects along the border, near the town of Neot Hakikar.

Officers and troops dispatched to the scene found two bags containing three M-16 rifles and three pistols, police said.

No suspects were immediately arrested.

Law enforcement officials have indicated guns smuggled in from Jordan are often sold to Arab Israelis and West Bank Palestinians, for both criminal and terrorist purposes.

The military and police have stepped up efforts to halt smuggling attempts along the Jordanian border in recent months.

On Monday, police detained four Bedouin residents of southern Israel near the northern town of Ashdot Ya’akov Ihud, after they allegedly smuggled three handguns over the border.

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

Chief Superintendent Ronen Kalfon, commander of the police anti-smuggling Magen unit, said, “Recently, we have identified many attempts to smuggle high-quality weapons, intended for criminal use and terror.”

Authorities have increasingly sought to crack down on the unmitigated spread of illegal weapons in the Arab Israeli community, which have been used to carry out a record-breaking number of murders in recent years.

According to the Abraham Initiatives, a group lobbying against violence in the Arab community, last year 125 Arabs were killed in Israel in community violence — an all-time record. Since the beginning of 2022, another 69 have been killed in incidents of violence.

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