New police unit to confront smuggling

"Magen" responsible for stopping weapons and drug trafficking on both sides of Negev Subdistrict.

Weapons Gaza 224.88 (photo credit: IDF )
Weapons Gaza 224.88
(photo credit: IDF )
Starting Monday, a new police unit will join in the fight against cross-border smuggling, this time patrolling the empty stretches of Israel's southern border with Jordan in the Arava Valley. The unit will be known as "Magen" (shield), a name drawing from the Hebrew acronym of "Negev Border Intelligence." Police said that the unit was established in response to continued smuggling across both the Egyptian and Jordanian borders in the Negev, and expressed hope that it would aid the already existing Negev Subdistrict Central Investigative Unit in confronting the problem. Insp.-Gen. David Cohen first initiated the decision to establish an intelligence unit in the Negev to gather information from criminal elements within the region in order to allow police to launch preemptive operations against smugglers. Cohen, as well as Southern District Chief Cmdr. Uri Bar-Lev and Negev Subdistrict Chief Lt.-Cmdr. Yossi Priente will all be present at the ceremony in Beersheba on Monday at which the unit will be officially established. The unit's 25 police officers, under the command of Supt. Ya'akov Mor, will be responsible for pulling the plug on weapons and drug trafficking along the 340 kilometers of border that stretch along both sides of the Negev Subdistrict. Mor, the unit's new chief, was previously a police intelligence officer and the commander of the Beersheba Patrol Unit, following IDF service in an elite unit. All of the police officers serving in the unit were hand-selected from among police currently serving in the Southern District, and are all former IDF combat soldiers. In recent months, they have been receiving additional training in fields including scouting, desert navigation, pursuits and operational driving, particularly under difficult terrain conditions. Magen will be one of two police units formed in the initial days of 2008 to combat cross-border smuggling. The second unit, Yagal, has already begun operation along the Lebanese border, with at least one successful drug bust in the border town of Ghajar.