78 Arabs arrested in police’s largest arms bust in history

November 10, 2021 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Around 1,600 Israeli police officers raided dozens of targets across Israel on Tuesday morning and arrested 78 major weapons dealers in the Arab sector, the largest operation of its kind against illegal weapons trafficking since the establishment of the state.

Some of the illegal weapons seized in the operation. (Police)

Operation “Ocean” began with the recruitment of an agent, a former weapons trafficker who crossed the lines and has been purchasing weapons and incriminating some of the largest arms dealers in the Arab sector.

The Police stated that at the end of a year of running an agent within the Arab sector, 78 of the heaviest weapons dealers in Israel were arrested.

The covert activity also resulted in the seizure of 40 rifles, 13 handguns, two machine guns, and two explosive devices. The agent, a former criminal, operated under the cover of a member of a criminal organization that supplies weapons to the “big bosses.”

Early Tuesday morning, 1,600 policemen, including Border Police troops and Special Forces, raided 25 localities, including Sajur, Dalit al-Carmel, Isfahan, Umm al-Fahm, Zelfa, Ma’ale Iron, Tamra, Bosmat Tivon, Kfar Ibtin, Foradis, Kfar Yarka, Kfar Yassif, Qalansua, Taibeh, and villages in the Jerusalem area.

The agent recruited in August 2020 by the Central Unit of the Northern District Police began operating in November 2020 and purchased over the past year53 weapons in 48 transactions, including 25 M16 assault rifles, seven Kalashnikov assault rifles, and 13 handguns made by Glock, FN, CZ, and Sig Sauer.

The covert operation led to the largest number of arrests of arms dealers since the establishment of the state and the largest number of weapons seized in such an operation.

Operation Ocean was headed by Meny Binyamin, according to the policy of the Northern District Commander Shimon Lavi to “dry up the swamp and not just catch the mosquitoes.”

Lavi stated that the police are “fighting violence and crime in the Arab society by all means, and beyond criminal activity, we are also attacking them [the criminal organizations] economically, through licensing, and sanitation, in cooperation with all law enforcement agencies in the country.”

“It is a real war for the daily life of all citizens of the country and their personal security, it is a war against the intrusion of criminal elements into local authorities who try and succeed in getting their hands on public funds, and it is a war against extortion of business owners in the private sector. There are organizations that are trying to take a share of a significant part of the economic activity in the country, public and private. This amounts to huge sums of money and if we do not continue to work to eliminate them, they will become stronger,” he warned.

“Crime must not pay off, and we must continue to act more forcefully and increase the pressure on the perpetrators,” he said.

The Arab sector has been suffering from a wave of crime in violence in recent years. Arab-Israeli society is plagued with daily incidents of violence. Over 110 Arabs were killed in criminal violence in 2020 and at least 110 so far in 2021.

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

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