‘Embarrassing’ security failure – Illegal Palestinian obtained gun license, worked as armed guard

Palestinian man with criminal record stole Arab-Israeli man’s identity, passed government-approved firearms course, obtained a gun license and started working as armed guard at popular mall in central Israel.

By World Israel News Staff

A Palestinian man with a criminal record was able to successfully infiltrate into Israel, pose as an Arab-Israeli citizen, undergo a firearms course, and obtain a gun license without triggering suspicion from authorities.

The man was working as an armed security guard at a shopping center in central Israel for several months before he was discovered, raising serious questions around failures in the Jewish state’s security apparatus.

According to Hebrew-language media reports, Mahmud al-Raja, 36, stole the identity of an Arab-Israeli citizen and used his personal details to begin working in Israel.

Originally from the Palestinian Authority-controlled town of Dura, south of Hebron, al-Raja did not have a valid work permit which would allow him to enter Israel and be employed in the country.

Using the victims’ personal information, al-Raja signed up for an Israeli government-approved firearms course.

Upon completing the training, he was issued a firearms permit by the authorities, which allowed him to carry a personal handgun and qualified him to work as a security guard.

He then found employment as a security guard at a popular mall in Holon, a suburb of Tel Aviv.

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The impostor was only discovered because the victim whose identity was stolen received a notification that he had been issued a weapons permit. As the victim had never applied for such a license, he was concerned and filed a police complaint.

Eventually, the authorities discovered al-Raja had assumed the victim’s identity to fraudulently obtain the permit and work. He was arrested while leaving the mall where he worked.

“This case evokes difficult feelings between great embarrassment and a real concern arising from the way the authorities handled the case of the suspect, who scammed his way to a weapons license, and even employment as a security guard at the Holon mall, while being a resident of the Palestinian Authority,” said Judge Alaa Massarwa at al-Raja’s arraignment hearing.

“He pretended to be an Israeli, has a criminal record, and has also accumulated convictions for property crimes, violent crimes, and fraud,” Massarwa noted.

Initial reports indicated that there were no signs al-Raja was planning a terror attack.