'Wandering Storm': Massive Border Police op targets illegal weapons

Over 60 targets in various locations in the coastal region were raided in the operation and 20 suspects were arrested.

Palestinian demonstrators clash with IDF and Israeli security forces during a protest in the village of Kfar Qaddum, near the West Bank city of Nablus, October 7, 2022. (photo credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)
Palestinian demonstrators clash with IDF and Israeli security forces during a protest in the village of Kfar Qaddum, near the West Bank city of Nablus, October 7, 2022.
(photo credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)

Around 850 Israeli Border Police officers raided 63 different targets from Hadera to Nahariya as part of an operation to crack down on illegal weapons and crime, Israel Police said on Monday.

The operation, called "Wandering Storm" or "Operation 1000," is the first large-scale operation conducted by Border Police's National Guard as law enforcement hopes to fight against rising crime rates. The operation is the third large-scale operation conducted in the coastal district in the past month.

Over 60 targets in various locations in the coastal region were raided in the operation and 20 suspects were arrested for weapons offenses and violence. Weapons, ammunition and weapons parts were seized as well.

The illegal weapons market is fueled in part by stolen IDF weapons and equipment. The operation comes after a massive heist was carried out on a large IDF base, which resulted in tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition being stolen.

The initial probe of that heist found that some 70,000 5.56-mm. bullets and about 70 40mm grenades designed to be used for M-203 rifle grenade launchers were stolen in an overnight theft from the Tznobar base near Katzrin.

Drugs and weapons smuggled in from Jordan caught by the IDF.  (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)Drugs and weapons smuggled in from Jordan caught by the IDF. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

According to the commander of the 210th Division Brig.-Gen Zion Ratzon, the heist was made possible due to security failures, such as gaps in the security infrastructure of the base. There were also an “abundance” of false alarms and an inadequate response in the ammunition storage complex.  

Stolen IDF equipment fuels Israel's illegal weapons market

The IDF suffers from an ongoing problem of weapons theft, with guns, ammunition and other weapons having been stolen from bases all across the country, most evidently in the Negev.

In addition, these stolen IDF weapons are used in almost all gun crimes in Israel, as noted by a Walla report from December 2021.

Around 675 shooting incidents were reported throughout 2021 in Israel, according to an official IDF statistics report. Out of those 675, 464 attacks used stolen, military-grade weapons.

This is a developing story.

Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.