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Israel foils largest-ever weapon smuggling attempt from Jordan

Operation 'Jewel of the Arava' seized 137 weapons

Weapons confiscated from smuggling attempt from Jordan (Photo: Screenshot/Israel Police)

Over the past several months, the largest-ever arms smuggling attempt from Jordan was thwarted by Israel Border Police.

Soldiers from the Southern Police Defense Unit seized 137 weapons, including 120 pistols and 17 M-16 rifles, and with them 250 cartridges. 

The weapons were identical to those used by the terrorists who carried out the shooting attack on Thursday morning in Jerusalem. The same type of rifles and handguns had been seized in Jenin. 

"We find the same types of weapons with the terrorists and with terrorist organizations in Judea and Samaria - and also with criminal elements in the sector," an Israeli police official said. 

The total value of the weapons is estimated at around 6 million shekels ($1.6 million). 

During the sting operation, the forces identified suspects who arrived with their vehicle near the Jordanian border. As the forces closed in on the suspects, they began to flee, however, they were eventually apprehended by security forces. Two smugglers, as well as the manager of the smuggling network, were apprehended. 

The operation, "Jewel of the Arava," lasted several months and officials believe the financing behind the arms smuggling is Iranian. The weapons had allegedly been coming from Syria and Iraq to Jordanian territory, where smugglers would bring them into Israel. 

The thwarting of the smuggling network came after the police identified a squad of Bedouins who lived in the area of Yeruham and had been carrying out the smuggling. 

The smuggling operation was exposed last week when four suspects were arrested. Three of the suspects were in their 20s, with the one identified as the director of the smuggling network in his 40s. 

The smuggling ring had attempted to carry out operations in several locations, but after several recent thwarted smuggling attempts by police in the Arava region, they moved to other areas. Army observers caught the smugglers while they were entering Jordanian territory.

In Jordan, the squad members received a large number of bags and sacks from a van, buried them in Israel - and planned to return for a second delivery. On their way back, police arrested two smugglers and the person identified as the manager of the network.

The Israel Air Force provided aerial surveillance during the operation. 

The largest smuggling activity this year was at the border fence with Jordan, where 63 guns were seized near Moshav Idan in the spring of 2023. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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