Israeli police seize over 430 guns in Arab sector since beginning of 2021

Illegal weapons in hands of criminals, gangs and rival families fuels Arab Israeli violence.

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

Police forces continued to fight the raging crime wave in the Arab-Israeli sector and arrested several people in recent days suspected of illegal weapons offenses and seized illegal weapons.

Most recently, police forces operating in the Arab city of Sakhnin in the north spotted a suspicious car and stopped it. They seized an M-16 assault rifle and arrested two suspects, one of whom assaulted the officers and attempted to escape.

Since the beginning of the year, during a period of about nine months, the police’s Northern District has exposed and collected hundreds of illegal weapons, including 430 rifles and handguns, 204 grenades, 58 explosive charges, 399 Molotov cocktails, 411 fireworks launchers that are used as weapons, and 223 Airsoft rifles, some converted to use with live ammunition.

These numbers do not include perpetrators and weapons seized in the Jerusalem and Southern Districts.

“Locating and seizing illegal weapons found in Arab localities is a top priority task of the Northern District Police in the Israel Police. Northern District Police officers work continuously, openly and covertly to obtain information about the weapons and endanger their lives to arrest the offenders and bring them to justice,” the police stated Monday.

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The police have stated that the illegal weapons are usually used by criminals, gangs, and rival families and tribes, mainly in conflicts and for the settling of local accounts.

However, these weapons are also used for terrorist activities, serious crimes, and incidents of severe violence, the police underscored.

Arab-Israeli society is plagued with daily incidents of violence. Over 110 Arabs were killed in criminal violence in 2020 and at least 80 so far in 2021.

The police increased its activity against the plague of shootings and weapons offenses in recent years, and in 2020 arrested 5,713 suspects in shootings and other weapons crimes throughout the country, an increase of 22 percent compared to 2019.

The vast majority of police activity was carried out in the Arab sector, and about 90% of the suspects arrested for shooting and weapons offenses were Arab Israelis.

Approximately 85% of the indictments filed in Israel in 2020 for shooting, illegal possession of weapons, trafficking, and illegal use of weapons have been filed against suspects from the Arab society.

Speaking at the Knesset’s Public Security Committee on Monday, Minister of Public Security Omer Barlev described the lawlessness in the Arab sector as “a genuine threat to the internal security of the State of Israel.”