Israeli security forces arrested three men suspected of smuggling weapons into Israel and the West Bank from Jordan in separate incidents, confiscating 32 pistols in the process, the military and police said Sunday.
In the first incident on Thursday, the Israel Defense Forces said soldiers monitoring surveillance cameras spotted two suspects along the border, near Kibbutz Ashdot Ya’akov Ihud, about seven kilometers (nearly 4.5 miles) south of the Sea of Galilee.
The IDF and police sent to the scene arrested the two, residents of the predominantly Arab northern town of Biina, and confiscated 10 pistols, police said.
It was unclear why the military and police waited several days before announcing the catch.
In the second case, on Sunday morning, IDF troops and police were sent to the border after soldiers monitoring security cameras spotted a suspect crossing the Jordan River near the West Bank settlement of Yafit, the military said.
Police said the man, a Palestinian from Jericho, was arrested by soldiers and officers, and the 22 pistols he carried in his bag were confiscated.
Law enforcement officials indicated that arms smuggled out of Jordan are often sold to Arab Israelis and West Bank Palestinians for both criminal and terrorist purposes.
Over the past year, the military and police have stepped up efforts to crack down on smuggling attempts along the Jordanian border and have begun to report some success.
Read more: On the porous border with Jordan, Israel begins to make headway in the fight against rampant arms smuggling
Unlike Israel’s other borders – with Egypt, Lebanon and Syria – its border with Jordan is largely open, often without significant fencing, and security is limited, making it a convenient conduit for large-scale smuggling.
Separately on Sunday morning, police and Israeli soldiers seized several firearms during a raid in the West Bank city of Hebron, the military and police said.
According to a spokesman for the Israeli police station in the West Bank, officers and soldiers searched the house of a suspected Palestinian in Hebron, finding three machine guns, two pistols and several parts for him.
Police said two Palestinians were arrested at the scene and taken in for further questioning. The IDF said one of the suspects was wanted for questioning by the Shin Bet security agency in connection with alleged involvement in terrorist activities.
The authorities are increasingly trying to stop the spread of illegal weapons in the Israeli Arab community, which have been used in a record number of murders in recent years.
Abraham Initiatives, which monitors and campaigns against violence in the Arab community, counted 116 Arabs killed in apparent killings in Israel in 2022. In 2021, 125 Arabs were killed in Israel as a result of community violence – an all-time record, surpassing the previous record. out of 96 installed in 2020.