The Israel Police launched a widespread operation to combat crime in Arab communities in the Negev, but arrested only 12 people on drugs and weapons charges, and confiscated just a handful of weapons.

Some 1,200 police officers and combat troops took part in the operation, which included the use of helicopters, and the presence of Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai and Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev. The forces confiscated two improvised rifles, weapons parts, ammo clips and ammunition.

A police source stated that one of the objectives of the operation was to restore deterrence in the Negev and strengthen the residents’ sense of security. The irregular use of helicopters was personally ordered by the police commissioner

In a press release, the police said that the operation was preceded by “lengthy preparatory work of marking the crime-causing targets who harm public security in Be’er Sheva and the Bedouin population localities.” The statement added that the operation was carried out by police officers, Border Police, and special forces.

Alongside weapons charges, police also confiscated 20 kg of cannabis ready to distribute, and destroyed cannabis greenhouses.

Police also took action against traffic violations during the operation, with 70 reports issued, 20 vehicles taken off the road due to mechanical failures, and 12 vehicles suspected as stolen.

“We have transitioned from defense to offense,” said Public Security Minister Bar-Lev, who observed the operation. “Our struggle to restore security to the residents of the south is long, difficult, and will be strewn with more than a few ups and downs. It will take time, and we will succeed.”

Police Commissioner Shabtai added that “This activity illustrates how determined we are to combat offenders on all levels, criminal and economic at once. Israeli Police will not stop until we have eradicated the phenomenon of illegal arms and increased the sense of security for residents of the south and the entire country.”