Israeli Forces Confiscate Dozens of Illegal Arms in West Bank Raid

Soldiers search 22 machine shops in effort to stamp out clandestine weapons manufacture in overnight operation in Hebron and Bethlehem areas.

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Soldiers in one of the clandestine West Bank machine shops raided on August 23, 2016.
Soldiers in one of the clandestine West Bank machine shops raided on August 23, 2016.Credit: IDF Spokesman
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The Israel Defense Forces raided 22 Palestinian machine shops on Tuesday, in an effort to stamp out the clandestine manufacture of weapons in the West Bank, 54 weapons confiscated.

Five battalions took part in the overnight operation in the Hebron and Bethlehem areas, which the army called the largest operation against weapons dealers on the West Bank in the past year. Two men suspected of producing and selling firearms were arrested by the soldiers, one of them is considered a major arms dealer. They handed over to the Shin Bet security service for interrogation.

The IDF was surprised to find a relatively large number of weapons in the machine shops. They seized 39 hand guns and several "Carlo" rifles, parts of a heavy machine gun, and weapons cases for snipers. For the sake of comparison, until now in all of 2016 about 350 weapons were found during IDF activity on the West Bank.

According to an officer in the Judea and Samaria Division, the main home-made weapon manufactured in the West Bank is the Carl Gustav submachine gun, aka the "Carlo," which is relatively cheap – costing a few thousand shekels. There is also relatively wide distribution of hand guns, one reason being that it's easier to obtain 9 mm bullets compared to ammunition for regulation weapons such as the M16 rifle or the Kalashnikov.

The officer described the present price list of the firearms on the West Bank: A Carl Gustav costs between 2,000 and 5,000 shekels ($530 - $1,326), depending on its quality; a hand gun costs between 10,000 and 20,000 shekels, and regulation weapons, such as the M16 rifle, cost over 50,000 shekels. The officer said that his goal is to ensure that such weapons are less available.

"We're in an ongoing battle against the production infrastructure and against the firearms dealers so that the weapons will be less available in Judea and Samaria, mainly to the world of hostile destructive activity," said the officer in a conversation with military correspondents. "We believe that there are additional plants like these  - and quite a few of them. From what we have found we realize that these are plants that will produce hundreds of weapons that will go out to the field, and there was potential for hundreds of additional weapons to be sent out later."

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