Police Arrest 11 in Bedouin Smuggling Plot

An armored Israeli military vehicle drives along Israel’s border with Egypt’s Sinai peninsula. (Reuters/Amir Cohen/File)

Police and Border Guards early Monday faced off against hundreds of Bedouin as they assembled in the southern village of Bir Hadj, which has become a key location for the smuggling of illegal goods, including drugs and guns, from Sinai. Arabs threw stones and blocks at security forces, who forced their way into warehouses where millions of shekels worth of contraband ready for distribution was stored. Eleven suspects were arrested.

The operation Monday was the continuation of one that began over the weekend, in which 330 kilos of drugs were seized from Bedouin villages. Officials have traced the smuggling activity to Bir Hadj and the surrounding area, with the village located a short distance from the Sinai border. Police on Monday arrested two suspects in connection with the case; the other nine were arrested on charges of rioting and attacking police.

Police said in a statement that they would continue to enforce the law and prevent the smuggling of illegal substances and items into Israel, as well as prevent violence against police.

Overnight Sunday, security officials said they arrested 22 wanted security suspects in other areas in Yehudah and Shomron. The suspects were wanted for participating in rioting and throwing stones and firebombs that endangered Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers. Several of the suspects were also charged with belonging to Hamas. All were being questioned on their activities by security forces.