The mountainous quantities of illegal weapons, run-of-the-mill and exotic, in the hands of Israeli Arabs have grown to unmanageable proportions. No Israeli civilian police, or even military force, has the scale of manpower required to mount raids in Israeli Arab population centers – ranging from Galilee in the North, the Triangle and Jaffa in the Center and the Bedouin of the Negev – for a comprehensive campaign to impound them – not even if backed by tanks and commando units.
It is pointless to call on all 1.5 million Arab, Bedouin, Druze and Circassian minority citizens to voluntarily surrender their guns. Almost every individual has at least one shooter. The accumulation would not shame any Middle East militia.
The authorities’ inability to deal effectively with this arsenal is not only shocking but has also made the Israeli underworld rich. And even more alarming, it provides a profitable link between terrorist organizations and both Israeli and Palestinian crime mobs and drug dealers. The failure to enforce order in some parts of the population, while other communities abide by the law, has created two parallel societies living by different rules.
The official data on the quantity of guns loose and unaccounted for are sketchy, bu the variety is hair-raising: grenade launchers; AT-3 Sagger and BGM-71 TOW antitank missiles; M-16 and Kalashnikov automatic rifles, submarine guns – mostly Uzis; heavy and light machine guns and mortars; explosive devices for remote detonation; concussion, gas and stun grenades; diverse ammunition; magazines; IDF uniforms; protective and bulletproof vests; night vision equipment; and much more.
The approximate black market price list we have obtained includes handguns – 15,000 shekels; grenades – 2,500 shekels; M-16 automatic rifles – 50,000 shekels; explosive devices (depending on size and power) 15,000-25,000 shekels; hand grenade – 500 shekels.
Arab Israeli leaders, especially their representatives in the Knesset, have vocally and repeatedly appealed to the police to collect the weapons loose in Arab villages and cities. They see their prevalence as a major cause of the violence and disorder rampant inside those communities. This is no doubt true, but there is also an element of hypocrisy in their demand, in view of their own failure to address – and even exploit – the underlying causes of the epidemic
1. Israeli Arabs customarily resort to the use of guns rather than the law to resolve their disputes and conflicts of interest.
2. It has finally been admitted that 90% of the weapons in illegal hands today were stolen from Israeli army depots, some by traffickers in uniform. Those soldiers were not averse to flogging arms to gangs capable of turning against their own units.
According to debkafile’s defense and counterterrorism sources, the remaining 10 percent, mostly handguns and submachine guns, are manufactured on underground production lines in the West Bank, Gaza or even within the Green Line in Israel. A small amount of the weapons is smuggled by land from the Sinai, Jordan and Lebanon.
3. The IDF's failure to properly guard its weapons and ammunition depots is stunning, scarcely illuminated by the figures the IDF has presented to various parliamentary committees: From 2010 to 2015, an average of only 100 weapons per year were officially stolen from army bases, military vehicles and the homes of soldiers.
However, army and police officers familiar with the figures say the number is tenfold, more like 1,000 pieces of weaponry stolen year by year.
Officers and enlisted men whose weapons were stolen receive only light penalties. However, robbing arms depots has become endemic, with Bedouin in the south making the Negev training bases their “home ground.”
They follow IDF units on exercises and steal anything lying about, even cooking utensils and sleeping bags.
There is a sour joke in IDF tank and artillery battalions, that every maneuver has its “camp followers” of Bedouin gun and ammunition thieves.
4. Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan, addressing the problem in a Knesset debate on Jan. 6, said that a comprehensive police roundup of illegal guns in Arab communities would immediately raise the charge that Israel was persecuting the Arab minority. He was answering charges of negligence hurled by Arab Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi.
5. The symbiosis that has developed between regular crime mobs and terrorists further boosts the illicit gun traffic. The availability of weapons encourages serious crimes. The “crime families” most notorious for their uncontrolled use of gunfire are to be found embedded in the Arab community, including the mixed towns of Lod, Jaffa and the Arab Triangle towns. Some of these mob chiefs may also contribute their violent services to Palestinian terrorist organizations.
Their activities certainly have a detrimental effect on the majority of their societies who are law abiding and uninvolved in criminal pursuits.
The problem could become more dangerous if the Bedouin, Druze or Circassian communities decided to rise up against Israeli majority rule, because their sons enlist for service in the IDF, the police and the prisons service. They are armed from head to toe, highly trained as soldiers and may be infected with the religious or national fanaticism sweeping the region.
In any case, there is no chance of the illegal guns and arms in every Arab home and gang arsenal being relinquished voluntarily. It is no good looking to national Arab leaders to lead any effort to collect them, because its much more convenient and politically profitable to blame Israel’s national authorities for the violence fostered by a culture that has made gun possession rife and a status symbol.