Much has been written about the proliferation of illegal guns in America. Unfortunately, Israel faces a similar problem in its Arab sector.
In America, illegal guns have fueled a crime wave the likes of which we have never seen before. In 2022, crime was up 22% in New York City. Illegal guns from Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania driven up Interstate 95—the “Iron Pipeline”—have wreaked havoc on the citizens of the city.
In Israel, most of the illegal guns and terrorists hail from the towns of Jenin and Nablus. However, the source of illegal guns in Israel is somewhat more complicated.
The Jan. 27 Neve Yaakov massacre of seven Israelis on the Sabbath at the Ateret Avraham Synagogue and the shooting by a 13-year-old of a father and son in Silwan the next day highlight the use of illegal guns by Arab terrorists. The Neve Yaakov murders were the worst since the Mercaz HaRav Massacre of eight students on March 6, 2008 and the Har Nof massacre at the Kehillat Bnei Torah Synagogue on Nov. 18, 2014.
The beginning of the illegal gun problem began in 1993 when the Oslo Accords gave guns to the Palestinian Arabs. Since the Oslo Accords, 300 Israelis were killed in terrorist incidents from 1993-2000. In the second intifada of 2000-2005, another 1,100 Israelis were murdered. In 2022, there were 300 shooting attacks by Arabs compared to 91 in 2021. Twenty-seven Israelis were killed while the IDF foiled 500 potential attacks.
Israel’s removal of checkpoints leads inevitably to the transfer of illegal guns from Gaza and Arab villages in Judea and Samaria. Checkpoints are the major deterrent to the proliferation of illegal guns. In America “stop and frisk” was a significant deterrent to the illegal gun trade. I imagine that New York will institute a form of checkpoints in the six main precincts where 27% of gun crime takes place.
In Israel, a large number of illegal guns have come from Iran. In 2002, Israel captured the ship Karine-A with 50 tons of Iranian weapons headed for Gaza. In 2009, Israel seized the Antigua-flagged vessel Francop with 300 tons of Iranian weapons intended for Hezbollah. In 2014, Israel intercepted the Klos-C, sailing under the Panama flag from Iran to Gaza with advanced missiles and other weapons. On Jan. 7, 2023, the U.S. Navy seized a vessel containing 2,100 Iranian assault rifles bound for the Houthis in Yemen.
This represents the tip of the iceberg. Iran is the main supplier of illegal guns and weapons in the Middle East. Only by finally putting an end to Iranian weapons exports will terrorism decrease in Israel.
Illegal guns remain an ongoing problem in both America and Israel. The problem can be dealt with if leaders address the root causes and sources. Law enforcement in America and the IDF in Israel have their work cut out for them.
Dr. Joseph Frager is a lifelong activist and physician. He is chairman of Israel advocacy for the Rabbinical Alliance of America, chairman of the executive committee of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim and executive vice president of the Israel Heritage Foundation.