Israeli law enforcement has seized 1,534 illegal firearms and hundreds of explosive devices in 1307 different busts since the beginning of the year, the Israel Police Spokesperson said on Monday morning.
Most notably, law enforcement seized 962 pistols, which averaged out to almost five illegal guns seized each day since the year’s start. Other firearms included 163 assault rifles like AR-15 family weapons and 47 shotguns. The majority of the firearms confiscated were improvised weapons like Carlo submachine guns.
The police seized one Carlo just on Sunday when a Jisr e-Zarka resident was arrested after allegedly having threatened his family members with the improvised weapon.
Along with these guns, the police found 117,077 rounds of ammunition of various calibers and types. The police also confiscated 930 imitation firearms.
"Since the beginning of the year, the Israel Police foiled over 40 incidents in which criminals were on their way to conduct a shooting to harm people," said the Israel Police.
The seizures were conducted under the banner of operation Green Safe Route to combat violent crime in Israeli Arab communities, which has risen drastically in 2023. According to the Abraham Initiatives, 89% of fatalities in Arab sector crime involved illegal firearms.
On Monday, the police announced that they had arrested an 18-year-old suspect in a murder that took place in April in Shuafat.
Firearms were not the only weapons seized by police during the first half of the year. The police confiscated 316 grenades of different types, 131 other explosive devices, and 2651 fireworks.
"The National Security Minister and Police Chief emphasize that every weapon seized by the police is to stop the next shooting incident that could be carried out on criminal or nationalistic grounds," said the police statement.
Different materials associated with criminal enterprises were also confiscated in cooperation with government bodies such as the Israel Tax Authority, police said. Around NIS 900 million and 122 vehicles were seized in 2023.
Besides the 1,307 weapon busts, the police conducted 462 different searches and 567 arrests. The police were not exact about the number of indictments filed, but said that they numbered in the dozens.
On Monday the Haifa District Attorney's Office submitted an indictment against four defendants, including a minor, for carrying out a revenge murder in an ongoing blood feud between the Jabrin and Agbaria families that had recently claimed the life of two of the men's father. The four shot and killed Muhammad Jabrin at the end of May.
The status report comes after the northern district police said at the beginning of July that they had seized 400 weapons since the beginning of the year. These busts included 162 pistols, 117 rifles, 90 genades and 28 other explosive devices. According to the Abraham Initiatives, 42% of 2023 fatalities were in the Galilee area.
Arab sector violence
"As part of the 'Green Safe Route' operation, the Israel Police continues a determined and uncompromising fight against the phenomenon of violence and crime in the Arab community," said the Israel Police.
However the Abraham Initiatives, an Arab rights NGO, said that Safe Tour had been underdeveloped by the National Security Ministry, and had failed to strengthen the police forces.
"The main problem lies in the attitude of the Minister in charge, who does not see protecting the lives of the Palestinian citizens of Israel as his mission, does not see protecting citizens and their rights as a priority," said the Abraham Initiatives in their 2023 mid-year monitoring report. "Every day that [National Security Minister Itamar] Ben-Gvir remains in his post is a day when our personal security is compromised."
Since the beginning of the year, 111 Arab citizens have lost their lives in violent crime, which is five more deaths than the entire previous year.
"This is a 134% increase compared to the same period last year," said the Abraham Initiatives. "If the current situation continues, we expect to reach 222 fatalities by the end of the year."