Bedouin Drug Smugglers Dress as IDF Soldiers, Use Stolen Army Jeeps
JERUSALEM– The lawless Sinai Peninsula is fast becoming a hotbed of radical Islamic activity but before the current lawlessness became pervasive in the Egyptian territory, it was already a center of criminal activity. An overwhelming share of the drugs brought into Israel every year come from the Sinai, brought in by smuggling rings comprised of Bedouin tribes on both sides of the international border.
The latest escalation of the cat and mouse game played by smugglers and the Israeli Defense Forces, which itself uses Bedouin trackers in its anti-smuggler sweeps, is the use by Bedouin tribes of jeeps outfitted to look like those used by the IDF. According to reports in the Hebrew language press, the smugglers have begun using jeeps, some stolen from parking lots outside of Negev region army and air bases and outfitted with more powerful motors, to facilitate their incursions into Israeli territory.
In a recent joint IDF, Israeli police mission, security officers raided the Negev village of Be’er Ha’edge, taking custody of night vision gear, six stolen jeeps, dozens of sets of IDF fatigues and 12 civilian vehicles painted in military colors.
An officer who spoke with Israeli journalist Simon Ifergan stated that as dozens of military jeeps have been stolen in the last several years, the most recent raid and its spoils only accounted for a “drop in the ocean.”
Eleven suspects were also taken into custody but many others remain at large, along with their reported equipment caches and vehicle depots scattered along the Egyptian frontier.
It is suspected, security forces have said, that Negev Bedouin are receiving IDF uniforms from relatives serving in the army’s elite tracker units, which are comprised of Arabs from the Negev.
However, it must be noted that it is fairly easy to buy surplus uniforms in stores in most major Israeli cities, making it harder to prevent smugglers from acquiring them.