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Security forces seize dozens of pistols, rifle parts from smugglers on Jordan border

In separate incidents, three Palestinians and a Bedouin man arrested trying to bring 45 handguns, almost 100 gun parts into West Bank

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

Weapons seized by security forces in the Jordan Valley, after an alleged gun-smuggling attempt over the border with Jordan on September 24, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
Weapons seized by security forces in the Jordan Valley, after an alleged gun-smuggling attempt over the border with Jordan on September 24, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli security forces arrested four men suspected of smuggling weapons into the West Bank from Jordan in separate incidents the past two nights, confiscating 45 handguns and dozens of assault rifle weapon parts in the process, the military and police said.

In the first incident Friday morning, the Israel Defense Forces said troops spotted a suspicious vehicle stop along the Jordanian border, with a suspect getting out to pick up a bag left on the fence.

After a brief chase, the car was stopped and two suspects in possession of 11 handguns were captured, according to the Israel Police.

Police said the pair, a Palestinian from Hebron and an Israeli man from the southern Bedouin town of Hura, will appear in court Saturday night for a remand hearing.

In the second incident early Saturday, IDF troops and police officers were dispatched to the border after receiving intelligence from the Shin Bet security agency about a planned smuggling attempt.

Two Palestinian suspects from Jericho were detained in the area, police and the IDF said.

Weapons seized by security forces in the Jordan Valley, after an alleged gun-smuggling attempt over the border with Jordan on September 23, 2022. (Israel Police)

Officials said the pair were carrying 34 handguns and dozens of parts for M16 assault rifles — 36 bolt carriers and 56 upper receivers.

Last month, 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.

Weapon parts seized by security forces in the Jordan Valley, after an alleged gun-smuggling attempt over the border with Jordan on September 24, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

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.

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

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 80 have been killed in incidents of violence.

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