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Security forces bust gun-running operation on Jordanian border, seize 13 firearms

Police arrest two men suspected of being part of major smuggling network

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

Weapons seized by security forces near Neot Hakikar in southern Israel, after an alleged gun-smuggling over the border with Jordan on June 20, 2022. (Israel Police)
Weapons seized by security forces near Neot Hakikar in southern Israel, after an alleged gun-smuggling over the border with Jordan on June 20, 2022. (Israel Police)

Israeli security forces arrested two men in southern Israel on Monday morning suspected of smuggling guns from Jordan, confiscating over a dozen rifles and handguns in the process.

According to Israel Police and the Israel Defense Forces, the two men in their 20s and 30s from Bedouin villages in the Dimona area were caught near the Israeli town of Neot Hakikar and found to be in possession of five M16 assault rifles, a sniper rifle, and seven pistols.

Police said they had been following a network of gun smugglers in the area for several months, with Monday’s suspects being part of that network.

Law enforcement officials have previously indicated that guns smuggled in from Jordan are often sold to Arab Israelis, 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, but some officials have admitted that success has been limited thus far.

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 Monday’s incident was the seventh smuggling it had thwarted this year, with over 140 weapons seized. “We are in the midst of an ongoing struggle against the plague of illegal weapons,” Kalfon said.

View of the border between Israel and Jordan, in the Jordan valley, in the West Bank, on June 17, 2020. (Yaniv Nadav/Flash90)

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 record-breaking numbers 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 44 have been killed in incidents of violence.

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