IDF soldier smuggling Palestinians busted at checkpoint

Off-duty soldier suspected of accepting bribes in exchange for transporting two Palestinian men without work permits into Israel.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

An Israeli soldier was arrested on Saturday evening after being caught attempting to smuggle two Palestinians into Israel via the Rantis Checkpoint near the city of Elad in central Israel.

Security forces at the checkpoint stopped the soldier’s personal car and discovered that two men in his vehicle did not have permits which would allow them to enter or work in Israel.

According to Channel 12 News, military police arrested the soldier at the checkpoint, under suspicion that he had accepted payment from the Palestinians in exchange for illicitly transporting them into Israeli territory.

The soldier, who was off-duty at the time of the incident, is a member of the Netzah Yehuda battalion, a division of the Kfir Brigade that is specifically designated for religiously observant soldiers.

His commanders were reportedly called to the scene. The military police will investigate the incident, and potential criminal charges against the soldier will likely be heard in military court.

The two axe-wielding terrorists who murdered four Israeli men in Elad on Independence Day in May 2022 had repeatedly illegally crossed into the city and worked as laborers at local construction sites.

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One of the victims of the attack was familiar with the two men, and had helped transport them from a hole in the security barrier to Elad on previous occasions.

In January 2023, at least 30 Palestinians were found hiding in the luggage compartment of a private tour bus after the vehicle was stopped at the Maccabim checkpoint.

Soldiers had ordered the bus to stop for an inspection when it reached the checkpoint, near the city of Modiin in the Judean foothills.

The driver quickly abandoned the bus and fled the scene, triggering Border Police officers and a bomb squad to check the vehicle for explosives.

But an inspection of the bus turned up no weapons or bombs – rather, there were some 30 Palestinian men hiding in the trunk of the bus.