Police bust massive shipment of firecrackers, knives bound for capital

Container marked as Christmas lights contained 18,000 firecrackers and thousands of other weapons meant to supply Palestinian rioters, officials say

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Weapons seized at the Ashdod Port on November 20, 2014. (photo credit: Courtesy Police Spokesman's Unit)
Weapons seized at the Ashdod Port on November 20, 2014. (photo credit: Courtesy Police Spokesman's Unit)

Authorities intercepted a massive shipment of tens of thousands of firecrackers, as well as knives, Tasers and other weapons Thursday that police say was en route to rioters in East Jerusalem.

Intelligence information led police and customs officials to the shipping container in Afula, which had been marked as containing Christmas lights, police said.

The container contained some 18,000 firecrackers, 5,200 knives, 4,300 Taser-flashlight devices, 5,000 electric shock devices and 1,000 swords, according to a police statement.

Police said it was the largest seizure of weapons of the type in recent history.

According to police, the enormous stockpile of weapons was intended to supply Palestinians in East Jerusalem, who have thrown firecrackers, Molotov cocktails and stones in ongoing clashes with police amid rising tensions in the capital.

The containers, shipped from China to the Ashdod Port, were addressed to residents of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina.

The containers were picked up by three Israeli Arabs from the north who came to Ashdod to collect the shipment with two trucks.

The three suspects were unloading the shipment into a warehouse in Afula where they were arrested together with their drivers and the warehouse owner.

Earlier this week, an IDF officer was injured during clashes near Ramallah, most likely from a firecracker hurled by Palestinian rioter, and was in danger of losing parts of two of his fingers.

Police have implemented measures to combat the increased use of firecrackers against security forces, including establishing a team together with the Economy Ministry to better monitor sales of the items.

Last month, police Chief Yohanan Danino announced that he was seeking to have firecrackers classified as dangerous explosives and instructed intelligence units to develop resources to better combat the phenomenon.

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