Thousands of illegal weapons have been smuggled into Israel via Jordan over the past two years, according to a report by Israel Hayom, following upgrades to Israeli security on the border with Egypt.
While a separation fence erected on the Israeli-Jordanian border in the 1980s and 1990s does exist, it does not constitute a genuine obstacle, in particular given the challenging landscape that includes a significant number of hidden paths for smugglers to use. If that wasn't enough, the Israel Defense Forces does not allocate many troops along the border as Israel and Jordan are not at war.
According to assessments, the result is that over a five-year span, hundreds of weapons have been smuggled into Israel and into the hands of terrorist organizations, powerful factors in Palestinian society, Arab Israeli crime organizations, and others.
M-16 rifles, Kalashnikovs, shotguns, pistols, and sniper rifles have increasingly been smuggled across the Israel-Jordan border following the IDF's establishment of a modern and formidable obstacle on the Egyptian border.
The smuggling is also transpiring in the Jordan Valley and to the north of there. In addition to Palestinian involvement in smuggling operations, the assessment is that Bedouin in Israel's north and south, and in a few cases, Arab-Israeli residents of the Galilee Region, are also involved.
According to IDF data, between 2021 and 2021, security forces thwarted 15 arms smuggling operations, seizing 262 weapons. According to intelligence, however, some 1,400 were not seized over that same timeframe.
A significant improvement was seen in the first three months of 2022 after security forces succeeded in thwarting six smuggling efforts and seized 147 weapons, the same amount seized throughout all of 2021. In total, over 1,600 weapons were seized in Israel between 2020 and 2021.
An M-16 rifle, which is sold in Jordan for around 25,000 shekels (around $8,000), is worth double that in Judea and Samaria. Should smugglers succeed in getting the weapons into Israel, that same weapon can garner up to 80,000 shekels (around $25,000).
The security system has invested quite a lot of money of late in a program to improve the response on Israel's eastern border. Among other things, the IDF has added various means for intelligence collection and observation, including cameras and radars, and reinforced troops on the ground.