Israeli Arabs account for 80% of illegal weapons seized since start of year

Eighty percent of the illicit firearms confiscated in Israel are in the minority’s sector, where violence is on the rise.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Some 3,600 kinds of illegal weaponry have been seized by the IDF in Arab towns and villages since the beginning of 2019, marking a 21 percent rise in confiscations since last year, Israel Hayom reported on Thursday.

This means, over 80 percent of the illegal firearms in the country were found in a sector making up just 20 percent of the citizenry.

They include 137 sub-machine guns and missiles, 526 guns, 435 rifles, 268 grenades and over 1,800 rounds of ammunition.

Some of the weapons are stolen from IDF bases, and others are homemade, such as the “Carlo,” a sub-machine gun manufactured in small, illicit workshops in Judea and Samaria and which has become a favorite weapon for Palestinian terrorists.

Many of the weapons are also coming from sources in the Palestinian Authority and are smuggled over the border from Jordan, Egypt and Syria.

Similar to 2018, over 90 percent of arrests this year of illegal weapons dealers and for the illegal firing of guns were made in the Arab sector.

“Not a day goes by that illegal weapons aren’t seized,” said a police source in the report, who noted that what the sector most needs is a change in attitude about obeying the law and reporting on finding such weapons to the police.

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“Unfortunately, instead of cooperating, in not a few cases, police are faced with opposition, sometimes violent, when they carry out the actions that the sector’s leaders are demanding of us,” the officer said.

The issue of the steady rise in violence in Arab communities came to a head earlier this month, when the entire Arab-Israeli sector staged a one-day strike on October 3rd to decry the lack of police action on the matter.

Leaders called for protests and closing roads to bring attention to the crime-ridden Arab sector and move Israeli law enforcement to crack down on the illegal weapons.

The impetus for their action was the murder of two brothers in broad daylight in an Upper Galilee town, which brought the number of Arab dead from criminal motives to 71 since the beginning of the year.

Less than two weeks later, hundreds protested in the mixed Arab-Jewish city of Ramle as a local imam was seriously wounded in a shooting and three more Arabs were killed.

Addressing the demonstrators, Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh said their demonstrations “will continue until quiet is returned to the streets and the crime organizations are defeated. If we do not continue to count arrests and demonstrations, we will continue to count fatalities and funerals.”

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Fellow Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman charged that the apathy of the authorities was due to the fact that the violence was mainly confined to the Arab sector.

“If the weapons were being aimed at Jews, the police would not wait for criminals to return the weapon voluntarily,” she said.

In October, Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan blamed the Arab society’s inbred taste for violence as the main cause for the uptick in attacks within their communities.

“Arab society, and I say that with sadness, is a very violent society,” he said. “It’s connected to the culture there. A lot of disputes that end here with a lawsuit, there they pull out a knife and gun.”