Weapons seized in IDF West Bank raid.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
Israeli troops caught Palestinian weapons dealers red-handed near the West Bank town of Tulkarm last week.
According to Lt.-Col. Benny Meir, soldiers received intelligence that a weapons deal was about to take place in the village of Khir Beit Akaba and arrived shortly thereafter at the scene and arrested a group of six men.
“It was a successful operation that was carried out with an extremely short time of preparation,” Meir said, adding that troops had only 15 minutes from the moment they received the intelligence to carrying out the arrests.
Troops raided the property where the deal took place and found weapons including a shotgun, M16 and a large amount of ammunition as well as knives and material to make explosive devices.
The cell is believed to have been responsible for providing weapons to Palestinians who have carried out attacks throughout the West Bank and was considered by Meir to have been “extremely sophisticated and hard to catch.”
All men have been transferred to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and are expected to be charged.
According to Meir, the nightly raids have given the IDF the flexibility and upper hand against Palestinian weapons dealers. “We are always in action and this is leading them to make many mistakes” which leads to their eventual arrests, he said.
“It’s like the roots of the tree: We might only get the branch on top at first, but in the end, we get to the roots and get everyone involved.”
Early Monday morning, the IDF together with the Shin Bet, Border Police and local district police in the West Bank arrested two Palestinians after a large stash of weapons was found in a house in the northern West Bank village of Asira ash-Shamaliya, outside of Nablus.
According to the army, troops seized a pistol, boxes of ammunition magazines for assault rifles and sniper scopes, and a 9-mm. Czech model known as CZ 75.
Security forces believe that most of the shooting attacks in the West Bank and inside Israel since the wave of violence that began in September 2015 have been carried out with weapons produced in the West Bank, most commonly with the Carl Gustav rifle.
Security forces, including the Shin Bet, IDF and police, have increased their efforts to uncover workshops producing illegal weapons, carrying out nightly raids in the West Bank, shutting down weapons factories and confiscating arms.
The IDF has seized approximately 150 firearms and raided 20 workshops since the beginning of 2017.