Recent retaliatory attacks by young Palestinians targeting Israeli occupation soldiers and armed settlers in the West Bank have raised questions about the sources of these weapons, considering that Israel and the Palestinian Authority work closely to prevent the proliferation of weapons in the Occupied Territories.
Several theories have been floating about the sources of these weapons, especially following the formation of the Lions’ Den group in Nablus, the Jenin Brigades, and other Resistance groups.
Observers noted that the weapons are quite sophisticated and suggested that Palestinians are no longer relying on weapons they manufacture themselves.
News investigated by Aljazeera.net summoned up the theories of where these weapons come from, based on Israel and Palestinian media analyses along with available images and videos.
From the Occupiers to the Resistance
Most of the weapons have been stolen from the Israeli army by unnamed sources. Initially, they have been shipped to the West Bank by powerful business people, clans, and individuals affiliated with the Palestinian leadership, who are worried about security chaos in case the PA collapses due to corruption and failed political transition.
A report published by the Israeli army has confirmed that some of the stolen weapons include: 323 M-16 rifles, 75 M-4 rifles, 84 rifles of other brands, 32 automatic weapons, 13 pistols, 527 hand grenades, 47 LAU rockets, 37 grenade launchers, 386 landmines, 12 flare bombs, 35 boxes of ammunition and 500,000 bullets.
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Israeli media sources also revealed in November that the Israeli army had opened an investigation into the disappearance of 70,000 and 70 hand grenades, stolen from one of its military camps in the Occupied Syrian Golan Heights.
In the fall of 2022, Israeli media also discussed what was then believed to be the largest theft of munition in the history of the Israeli military. This included the disappearance of 93,000 bullets.
The Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot said that what has been stolen from the military storage of the Israeli army must be many times more than what the military has reported. The Israeli paper estimated that $ 15 million worth of weapons disappeared from the Israeli military per year.
The PA’s own investigation said that Israeli and Palestinian merchants made massive profits from weapons sales in the West Bank, estimating the price of an M-16 at $30,000 and a bullet at $3 each.
Israeli army sources claim that there are several lines of weapons smuggling that come from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon and that much of these weapons arrive through the Jordan River and the Jordan Valley and also through the northern borders with Lebanon. Another line of smuggling comes from the Sinai in the South and West.
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In the last three years, Israel declared that it had stopped 60 smuggling attempts, confiscating over a thousand rifles, hundreds of pistols, and hand grenades.
‘Israel’s Greatest Failure’
Though many of these weapons arrived to the Resistance in the West Bank and Gaza, some of them end up in the hands of Palestinian clans and officials of the PA.
Many of these weapons are also manufactured in underground mechanic shops in the West Bank, including the Arlo rifle, which is also known as the weapon of the poor, due to its cheap production costs.
Yediot Ahronot says that the proliferation of weapons and the manufacturing of new weapons expresses “Israel’s great failure” in preventing an armed rebellion in the West Bank. The newspaper also said that in order for the Israeli army to locate a single rifle, they spend many hours raiding and searching West bank villages and refugee camps, which often leads to confrontations with fighters and the loss of Israeli soldiers.
(The Palestine Chronicle Staff)
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