A total of 22 suspects were arrested in the combined police and army operation.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Several IDF soldiers were recently arrested on suspicion of being part of an alleged gun smuggling ring that provided weapons and other items to criminals in Israel from the Palestinian Authority.
The IDF’s Spokesperson Unit said that “six soldiers serving at border crossings in the West Bank were arrested for knowingly refraining from conducting security checks as required, with some even taking bribes for their actions.”
A police spokesperson said that the bribes were quite hefty, totaling tens of thousands of shekels, for turning a blind eye to the illegal operation.
Besides weapons, tobacco products and other items were also allegedly smuggled from Judea and Samaria in both commercial and private vehicles that went freely through the security checkpoints when those soldiers were on duty.
Eight Israeli citizens and eight Palestinians were also arrested in the joint IDF-Israel Police sweep, which followed a months-long undercover operation.
In a video clip released by the police, the security forces can be seen entering apartments with rifles drawn, counting out piles of 200 shekel bills, and finding weapons parts. They also found documents and cell phones during the arrests.
The suspects will be brought before the Jerusalem Magistrates Court and the Jaffa Military Court, respectively, for their hearings. The possible charges against the soldiers include bribery and deviating from authority to the point of risking state security.
“This is a significant operation, during which we identified a dangerous triangle through which weapons and goods were smuggled from Judea and Samaria through passages that are supposed to act as ‘filters’ and a safety net,” said Chief Superintendent Eliaz Haliba, who heads the Criminal Investigations Unit in Judea and Samaria, to Israeli Hayom.
He added that the police and security forces carry out a variety of activities throughout the year “to reduce the… crime between Judea and Samaria and Israel, which affects the quantity and quality of crime within Israel.”
“The IDF considers these types of offenses to be very serious and will act against those found guilty,” said the Army.
“We would like to note that this is an unusual event with only a few soldiers suspected to be involved and it does not represent the spirit and conduct of soldiers serving at the border crossings, who deal daily with the security of Israeli citizens and preventing smuggling and terrorist actions.”