Police Seize Weapons Disguised as Christmas Decorations Bound for East Jerusalem

Israeli police suspect that the contents of the two containers, which included knives and electroshock devices, were destined to be used by Palestinian protesters.

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Israeli police inspect the contents of containers in which weapons were found under the guise of Christmas decorations, Nov. 20, 2014. (Photos by Israel Police)
Israeli police inspect the contents of containers in which weapons were found under the guise of Christmas decorations, Nov. 20, 2014. (Photos by Israel Police)

Three suspects from northern Israel are in custody after taking possession of two shipping containers full of fireworks, knives, swords and electroshock weapons, according to the Israel Police.

A gag order on the seizure was lifted on Thursday.

The containers were shipped from China under the guise of Christmas decorations and addressed to a resident of Beit Hanina, a largely Christian neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

Palestinian protesters in Jerusalem have made extensive use of fireworks during clashes with police in recent months. Police say that high-caliber fireworks can penetrate police protective gear at close range and cause serious burns.

The discovery of the containers and the arrest of the suspects was the culmination of a joint investigation by detectives from the police's central district, Tax Authority officials and Ashdod port customs personnel.

The containers were tagged as suspicious when they arrived at the port on November 12. Police launched a covert operation and were on hand when three of the suspects, reported to be Israeli Arabs from the north, arrived at the port with a power of attorney to release the containers.

The suspects, with the containers on trailers, were followed by the police to a warehouse in Afula, where they were detained.

Two of the suspects were released after questioning and the other three arrested. Their detention was extended until next Wednesday.

According to the police, the containers held 18,000 fireworks, including those of calibers that are restricted in Israel; 5,200 commando knives; 4,300 flashlights that can be used as electro-shockers; 5,500 Taser electro-shockers; and 1,000 swords.

"The police will continue to work with civilian enforcement agencies on intelligence gathering that leads to the seizure of dangerous articles, and we will arrest the criminals who transfer them to lawbreakers who threaten lives," said Jerusalem District Commander, Maj. Gen. Moshe Edri.

The Knesset Economic Affairs Committee on Tuesday approved a three-month ban on the import of fireworks due to their use as weapons.

(Photos by Israel Police)

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