Israel Police Seize ‘Unprecedented’ Shipment of Tasers, Machetes, Fireworks Meant for Arab Rioters
Israeli Police on Thursday announced that they had confiscated two shipping containers in Ashdod Port which concealed a massive delivery of tasers, machetes and commando knives, fireworks, and other “cold weapons,” headed for Arab rioters in east Jerusalem.
Declared as “Christmas presents,” in the containers’ documentation, the goods, imported from China, included some 10,000 tasers, 5,500 commando knives, and 20,000 fireworks, police told reporters.
Intelligence tips alerted tax officials in Ashdod to examine the shipment, which was addressed to residents of Beit Hanina – the locus of months of riots in the capital.
Officials termed it the largest haul of illicit fireworks ever confiscated in Israel.
“We found two containers disguised as holding Christmas decorations,” according to Rafi Gabay, Director of Customs at the Port of Ashdod.
“The containers were intended for a resident of east Jerusalem from Beit Hanina. We carried out covert activities in order to identify the container’s contents, and it turned out that one of the containers held hundreds of thousands of firecrackers and fireworks, and a second container, 16,000 cold weapons, like commando knives, many tasers, brass knuckles, machetes and swords,” Gabai said.
“Since we are aware that the event had security implications, we decided to join forces with the Central Unit of the Jerusalem police, and together we ran a covert operation to tail several suspects. This is the largest seizure event we can remember in terms of cold weapons and detonators,” Gabai said. “Following recent events, we’ve been working hard to catch all the smuggling attempts, with an emphasis on firecrackers and fireworks,” he added.
Police arrested several people suspected of involvement in the smuggling ring. Senior police officials emphasized that the huge fireworks shipment would have significantly upgraded the rioters’ abilities to attack security forces and carry out terror attacks.
In recent months, Palestinian and Arab rioters have been firing ganged fireworks canisters at security forces which has led to an escalation in the severity of the clashes. Police have had to begin wearing fireproof jumpsuits in order to avoid burns from the attempted deadly attacks, which led police officials to make tracking down the source of the devices a particularly high priority.
Jerusalem District Commander, Maj.-Gen. Moshe (Chico) Edri, praised the central unit and the customs officials in Ashdod on the joint operation that yielded the arrest of suspects and the seizure of unprecedented scope.
“These items have already wounded police and Border Guard officers to varying degrees, and their confiscation is an important and significant step in fighting disturbances and maintaining the security of the citizens of Jerusalem and its visitors,” Edri said.
On Tuesday, the Knesset Economics Committee voted on an import ban on fireworks after their use became common during the current round of escalation, which Palestinians have dubbed the “Fireworks Intifada.”