Another week, another arms cache found stashed in a school in an Arab village in northern Israel. On Monday morning, special police units raided an elementary school in Abu Sinan (Acre) in the Galilee, and found 13 mortar shells, three rifles, incendiary flares and sacks filled with hundreds of rounds of .9mm ammunition.
The weapons were all found stashed in a closet inside a classroom at the school that is no longer in use. The incident is the latest in a series of police raids in schools and daycare centers where firearms and explosives have been hidden.
Cmdr. Michael Shifshak, head of the northern branch of the YAMAR investigative unit, said police have an idea of whom the weapons belonged to, but are not yet ready to carry out arrests.
In February, anti-tank missiles, rocket-propelled grenades and explosives were found stashed in a school and a kindergarten for special needs children in Abu Sanan, and pipe bombs and firearms were found at schools in the Central District the same week. Also in February, explosive materials were found buried in a sandbox at a kindergarten in Nahariya.
Shifshak said criminals have adopted the practice of stashing weapons in schools and other public places in Arab villages and elsewhere because they assume that police will be less likely to search there.
Shifshak said that when detectives, YASSAM officers, border patrolmen and bomb squad officers arrived at the school around 9:30 a.m. Monday they took the pupils outside of the building and kept them at a safe distance while they searched the facility.
He said the mortars were probably meant to be broken apart and used as raw materials for explosive devices, and that in Abu Sanan, just like all the Arab villages in the North, there are long-running feuds between different families and local criminals, and no shortage of people looking to get their hands on illegal weapons to settle a score.
Northern District Spokesman Moshe Weitzman said Monday that the raid is part of the district’s “unrelenting campaign against guns in the Arab sector,” which he said District Commander Maj. Gen. Roni Atias has made its top district- wide priority.