Israeli forces arrested 16 Arabs on Monday night on suspicion they were dealing in the smuggling and illegal distribution of weapons from the Palestinian Authority and Yehudah and Shomron to Israel, some of which were locally produced.
The arrests were the culmination of a months-long operation conducted by the police’s 433 Unit, in which it ran an undercover agent who exposed and documented the illegal weapons dealers.
The agent revealed key links in the chain of offenders, which included couriers who smuggled weapons into the country, some of which had undergone a conversion process from Airsoft to “live” weapons intended for criminal activity within the country.
The agent, who operated in a complex arena, gained the trust of the suspects and bought dozens of Kalashnikov assault rifles, M-16s, a Carlo submachine gun, and various types of handguns.
Among the detainees are residents of several villages in Yehudah and Shomron who traded with Israelis.
The detainees will be brought before a military court for a hearing on the authorities’ request for an extension of the suspects’ remand.
“We will continue to act in the determined and uncompromising fight against weapons offenses, all with the aim of preventing crime and terrorism, increasing the sense of security, and maintaining the safety of the public,” the police stated.
The police and IDF have been fighting illegal weapons producers and dealers in Yehudah and Shomron for years. The weapons are used for crime but have also been used in terror attacks.