Undercover agent leads to 15 West Bank arrests

"A few times I was afraid that they would find out I was a cop," said Yael, the 26-year-old star of Sunday night's West Bank drug bust. Based on her work, Judea and Samaria Police arrested 15 suspects on drug charges, all Jewish residents of Ma'aleh Adumim, Ariel, Betar Illit, and Adam. Yael, who had been deputized by the Israel Police during her nine months undercover, told The Jerusalem Post it had been her lifelong dream to become a police officer. Nevertheless, she said, working undercover was nerve-wracking. "There were times when dealers tried to call me out," she said. "But if they got aggressive, I'd get aggressive back. If they called me a cop, I'd call them a cop. In the end, no one really caught on. "When I'd go to make a buy, I went alone," she said. "Even though I knew the police were backing me up, I was the one going to these places and meeting these people to buy the drugs." Her efforts paid off. Judea and Samaria Police told the Post that this was the first time their district had used an undercover agent. "She did very good work," said Judea and Samaria Police spokesman Danny Poleg. "We have cases against all 15 people and we were able to arrest them all in one night - nobody got away." The suspects, who appeared in a Jerusalem courtroom Monday morning, will all face drug charges stemming from their various sales of hashish to Yael. While police did not have a definite number of the amount of hash seized throughout the investigation, they did say there was enough to build cases against each suspect. "She bought different amounts, which increased each time," said Poleg, "We certainly have enough evidence for court." Yael, who had been trained and deputized before beginning her undercover work, was officially inducted into the Israel Police after Sunday night's arrests, and given her police ID and service weapon in front of an applauding crowd of colleagues. "I've always wanted to be an undercover officer with the Israel Police," she said. While studying criminology at Ariel College, she jumped at the chance to do so after a friend told her that she knew someone who was selling hashish. Using that contact to uncover a wider ring of drug dealers, she went to various communities throughout the West Bank and purchased drugs. Over the nine months Yael was undercover, she helped Judea and Samaria Police build cases against each of the drug dealers - something Poleg said would have been exceedingly difficult without her help. "Drug crimes are different from most other crimes, in that there usually aren't any complaints to tip us off," Poleg said. "With auto theft or other offenses, there are complaints, and we can usually build a case from what the people who file the complaints tell us," he explained. "But with drugs, and people that are using drugs, it's difficult, because we have to find these people ourselves. This is true for any part of the country, not just the West Bank." Still, Yael said that the area was problematic from a security standpoint. "It's a tough and dangerous area," she said. "I worked along Road 60, from Adam to Ariel, where there are a lot of shootings and bombings" from the Palestinian terrorist organizations that operate in the area. From the threats on the road to the shady drug dealers she purchased the hash from, Yael admitted that her undercover experience was "a bit scary," but said the result made it all worthwhile. "The goal was to catch the drug dealers operating in the area," she said. "And that's exactly what we did."