Security forces foil bid to smuggle 25 handguns from Jordan to West Bank

Two Palestinian suspects detained by police after chase near northern Jordan Valley village

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

Weapons seized by security forces after an alleged gun-smuggling over the border with Jordan on October 31, 2022. (Israel Police)
Weapons seized by security forces after an alleged gun-smuggling over the border with Jordan on October 31, 2022. (Israel Police)

Israeli security forces arrested two Palestinian men suspected of smuggling weapons into the West Bank from Jordan on Monday morning, confiscating 25 handguns in the process, the military and police said.

According to the Israel Defense Forces and Israel Police, troops and officers spotted a suspicious man near the border in northern Jordan Valley, before he took off in a vehicle.

Following a chase by police near the Palestinian village of Bardala, the car was stopped, and the man was arrested along with another man suspected of aiding the smuggling attempt. Two bags containing 25 handguns were found in the vehicle, police said.

Police said the pair, both West Bank Palestinians, would appear in court Tuesday for a remand hearing.

In August, the IDF said there had been a “significant rise” in attempts to smuggle weapons into Israel and the West Bank from Jordan, counting more than 300 guns seized since the beginning of the year. In 2020 and 2021 combined, 300 firearms were seized along the eastern frontier, the IDF said.

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.

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

The military and police have stepped up efforts to halt smuggling attempts along the Jordanian border over the past year.

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.

Authorities have increasingly sought to crack down on the 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 95 have been killed in incidents of violence.

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