The IDF and the Israel Police have thwarted the smuggling of 13 weapons in the Arava following an undercover investigation that took place in recent months.
From Sunday night until Monday morning, soldiers and the Israel Police Southern District’s Magen Unit identified two suspects who attempted to smuggle weapons from Jordan into the area of the Yoav Regional Brigade (80th Division) in the South.
Troops from the division’s mixed-gender Caracal (Wild Cat) Battalion, accompanied by police officers and IAF helicopters, rushed to an area near Neot Hakikar and arrested two suspects who were carrying out the smuggling at the border and one suspect involved in planning it who was nearby.
The security forces confiscated three bags containing five M16 rifles, seven pistols and a Kalashnikov rifle.
The suspects, all residents of the Dimona area in their 20s and 30s, were taken by the Magen Unit for further questioning.
“The Israel Police and the IDF will continue to work to maintain the security of the State of Israel and to prevent the smuggling of drugs and weapons, which promotes crime in the Negev and terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria to harm civilians,” the police said in a statement.
More than 140 weapons have been seized since the beginning of the year, according to Ch.-Supt. Ronen Kalfon, commander of the Magen Unit.
“The Israel Police and the IDF will continue to work to maintain the security of the State of Israel and to prevent the smuggling of drugs and weapons, which promotes crime in the Negev and terror attacks in Judea and Samaria to harm civilians.”Israel Police
“We are in the midst of an ongoing struggle against the plague of illegal weapons,” he said, adding that “as part of the combining of police forces with the IDF brigades spread across the Arava and the Jordan Valley, each of which brings its own unique advantages, this is the seventh smuggling attempt we have thwarted this year.”
What happened before
The IDF and the police last year launched the Magen Hanegev program to crack down on lawlessness and drug and weapons smuggling in the South.
Crimes such as weapons and drug smuggling have been rampant in the Negev for decades, but the security forces have only recently begun to view them as a risk to national security, due in part to a surge in violence committed during smuggling attempts and weapons thefts from IDF bases.
In March, security forces thwarted the smuggling of 37 weapons and ecstasy tablets worth NIS 2.3 million. The weapons were about to be delivered to Palestinians in the Hebron area and criminal elements in the South, the police said.
It “was the largest smuggling attempt in the Arava in a long time,” Maj. Shira Kohavi, deputy commander of the mixed-gender Bardelas (Cheetah) Battalion, told The Jerusalem Post at the time. “We don’t see this every day.”