Umm al-Fahm man accused of charging smugglers to use section of West Bank barrier

An Umm al-Fahm man has been charged for running what police say was a “pirate” crossing between Israel and the West Bank, where he would allow items or people to be smuggled for a fee.

The man, 38, is accused of “controlling” a section of the West Bank security barrier adjacent to his home, where he ran an illicit operation taking money for allowing people to use the section to move between Israel and the West Bank. He was arraigned yesterday in Haifa.

Among objects smuggled “systematically” through the crossing were assault rifles, pistols, stolen cars and other goods, police said. People, likely workers without permits to enter Israel, also used the crossing. Others aided the operation by collecting money or acting as lookouts for police. Smugglers were charged dozens or hundreds of shekels.

Police said three residents of Umm al-Fahm were arrested in April, before the investigation became public. Two West Bank residents were also arrested after the probe went public and are being questioned. Authorities did not say if the accused man is among the three who were arrested or if the others in Umm al-Fahm were freed or may still be charged.

Israel has been cracking down on holes in the security barrier since a series of deadly terror attacks carried out by Palestinians who entered Israel via the illicit passageways.

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