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Israel uncovers illegal weapons, drugs at Egyptian, Jordanian borders

Increased smuggling into Israel of weapons, drugs has prompted greater countermeasures by joint task force

Confiscated guns from a smuggling attempt into Israel (Photo: IDF)

A new report released by the Israel Defense Forces on Sunday claims that more than 300 weapons intended for both terrorist and criminal use have been seized at the Egyptian and Jordanian borders, in 18 smuggling attempts this year.  

Security forces this year have also seized 2,100 kilograms of drugs, worth approximately NIS 135 million, in 40 blocked drug-smuggling operations along the borders.  

Drugs confiscated from a smuggling attempt on the Egyptian-Israeli border (Photo: IDF)

Just last week, the IDF said that security forces were able to stop a gun-smuggling attempt at the Israel-Jordan border near the Dead Sea, seizing three assault rifles and three handguns. Law enforcement officials report that such weapons are often sold to Arab Israelis and West Bank Palestinians and are used both in criminal and terrorist activities. 

Last Monday, Israeli police arrested four Bedouins from southern Israel near Ashdot Ya’akov Ihud, a kibbutz south of the Sea of Galilee, after they were caught smuggling three handguns over the border from Jordan.

Unlike Israel’s other frontiers – with Egypt, Lebanon and Syria – the state’s border with Jordan is relatively open, lacking significant fencing and making it an easy conduit for smuggling. 

Gun seized by security forces in northern Israel near the border with Jordan on August 21, 2022. (Photo: IDF)

The IDF report describes what has become “an increase in the scope of the attempts to smuggle drugs and weapons into Israeli territory” and stated an increase in countermeasures being taken to deal with it.

In 2020, security forces thwarted the smuggling of drugs valued at about NIS 150 million, and in 2021, drugs at a value of about NIS 209 million.

The 18 weapons-smuggling operations thwarted in 2022 so far rose from 13 smuggling operations in 2021 and eight in the year prior.

Image provided by the IDF

Speaking of the IDF’s success against smuggling operations, Faran Brigade Commander Lt.-Col. Ido Saad said that “the mission of our forces to protect the borders, preserve the governance of the Negev and to work for the sovereignty of the State of Israel within peaceful borders is of the highest importance.”

Saad noted how Israel’s Central and Southern Command have established combined military units to combat smuggling at the borders, which include IDF soldiers, Israel Police members, Shin Bet operatives and others.

“The units work to produce accurate intelligence pictures in real-time and to formulate a unified operative response to smuggling attempts,” Saad said.

Yoav Regional Brigade Commander Lt.-Col. Itamar Dashel said about the joint work that he is “proud of the forces operating in the sector, who demonstrate operational precision and lead to important security achievements, making it possible to preserve stability in a space where silence is deceptive.”

“The brigade experienced a significant leap forward in dealing with and understanding the security threat and increasing readiness to face other threats in the region,” he said.

Israeli authorities are attempting to crack down on the severe spread of illegal weapons in the Arab Israeli community, which has led to a record-breaking number of murders in recent years.

A group that works against violence in the Arab community, the Abraham Initiatives, reported that last year a record-breaking 125 Arabs were killed in Israel as a result of community violence. Since the beginning of 2022, another 72 have been killed in violent incidents.

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

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