Soldier arrested for trying to smuggle Palestinians through West Bank checkpoint

Serviceman of Netzah Yehuda battalion caught at Rantis Checkpoint with two Palestinians without entry permits in his car; Military Police questioning him

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

Illustrative: Israeli soldiers question motorists at the 'Tunnels' checkpoint, near Jerusalem, October 12, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash9)
Illustrative: Israeli soldiers question motorists at the 'Tunnels' checkpoint, near Jerusalem, October 12, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash9)

An Israeli soldier was arrested Saturday night for allegedly attempting to smuggle two Palestinians into Israel through a West Bank checkpoint, the military said.

The soldier, of the controversial Netzah Yehuda battalion, part of the Kfir Brigade, was off duty during the incident at the Rantis Checkpoint, close to the Israeli city of Elad.

The soldier tried to pass through the checkpoint with two Palestinian men in his car, the Israel Defense Forces said. The pair apparently did not have entry permits to Israel.

He was stopped by Military Police soldiers, who are tasked with managing the checkpoint, and was then handed over to the Military Police’s Criminal Investigations Department for questioning. His commanders also headed to the scene to be updated on the details.

Netzah Yehuda had been moved from its deployment in West Bank to the Syrian border earlier this month, for the first time.

Soldiers have in the past been accused of taking bribes in exchange for allowing Palestinians without permits to enter Israel.

The IDF over the past year has fixed up many weak points in the West Bank security barrier, after several Palestinian terrorists managed to enter Israel through gaps in the fence.

The number of Palestinians identified illegally crossing through the barrier dropped from around 30,000 a day in March 2022, to several hundred a day since April 2022, and down further to several dozen a day in recent months, according to the IDF.

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