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Three Palestinians arrested with submachine gun at West Bank security barrier

Men taken to be questioned by Shin Bet; unclear whether they planned attack or sought to sell firearm

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

A Carlo makeshift submachine gun seized from Palestinian suspects on the West Bank security barrier near Baqa al-Gharbiyye, September 18, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
A Carlo makeshift submachine gun seized from Palestinian suspects on the West Bank security barrier near Baqa al-Gharbiyye, September 18, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces said Sunday its troops had arrested two Palestinian suspects at the West Bank security barrier, near the Israeli Arab city of Baqa al-Gharbiye, one of whom was armed with a submachine gun.

According to the IDF, soldiers operating surveillance cameras spotted the two men attempting to cross the West Bank security barrier close to the Baqa checkpoint that separates the Israeli city from the Palestinian village of Baqa a-Sharqiyya.

The IDF said troops were dispatched to the scene and arrested the pair. One was found to be carrying a Carlo makeshift submachine gun in his bag.

The pair were taken to be questioned by the Shin Bet security agency. It was not immediately clear whether they planned an attack or were seeking to sell the weapon.

The IDF added that a third suspect was arrested nearby shortly after. He was not reported to have been armed.

Hebrew-language media reports, citing the IDF, said the two were believed to have been planning an attack in Israel or were going to sell the weapon in order for someone else to commit an attack.

In its statement, the IDF did not elaborate on their alleged intentions.

IDF soldiers are seen operating along the West Bank barrier, April 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

Last week, an Arab Israeli man was shot and critically wounded by Israeli troops during a suspected smuggling attempt along the security barrier near the Arab Israeli city.

Early Wednesday morning, an Israeli officer was killed in a gun battle with two Palestinians along the West Bank security barrier. The pair, armed with makeshift firearms, were also slain in the clash.

The IDF has dispatched thousands of troops in recent months to the seam zone area to prevent Palestinians from crossing into Israel. Though some of the barrier is a concrete wall, much of it is just fencing.

In recent years, thousands of Palestinians entered Israel every day through the gaps in the fence for work, but the IDF vowed to clamp down, after several terror attacks earlier this year were committed by Palestinians who used the gaps to reach Israeli cities.

Israeli troops have repeatedly come under gunfire during nightly raids in the West Bank, during a months-long effort against Palestinian terrorists. The military launched the operation after a series of deadly attacks that killed 19 people between mid-March and the beginning of May.

More than 2,000 suspects have been detained since the beginning of the year, according to the Shin Bet security agency.

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