Israeli security forces seized 137 guns being smuggled into the country in what they called the largest weapons bust along the Jordanian border, the Israeli Police announced on Thursday.
The confiscated weapons included 17 M-16 rifles, 120 pistols, 35 weapon assemblies, rifle parts and about 250 cartridges, worth six million shekels ($1.6 million). Four suspects, all from the Bedouin community of Yeruham, were arrested.
Over the past few months, police forces in the Negev covertly investigated the weapons smuggling ring. Police learned that the weapons would be moved across the border on Nov. 23 in the area around Moshav Tzofar.
Police and army personnel were prepared when a jeep and several other vehicles crossed the border. The Jeep Landcruiser and several Toyota Corolla vehicles were also confiscated.
The suspects, in their 20s and 30s, have been remanded in custody by the Beer Sheva Magistrate’s court.
Police believe the weapons were destined for Arab criminal groups, fueling an unprecedented wave of homicides in the Arab-Israeli community.
The violent murder of a pregnant Bedouin woman in Lod on Thursday morning brings to 222 the number of Israeli-Arabs homicides in 2023, according to the Abraham Initiative.
This year’s spike in violence is attributed to organized crime groups fighting turf battles and trying to eliminate rivals. Arab criminal organizations have been involved in extortion, money laundering, trafficking in weapons, drugs and women.