Illegal DIY Weaponry More And More Common Along West Bank, Sparks Raids By Israeli Forces

Israeli troops, approximately 150 in number, that include special-forces operatives, began searching the town on Azzuri in the West Bank by way of armored vehicles to attempt to uncover guns and those who make them. Their mission was a success as they found what they went for.

The operation is a part of a campaign put in place by Israeli government to rid the portion of the West Bank that is occupied, of its guns. The type that is more specifically being searched for is a handmade submachine gun that has a name on the Palestinian streets, “Carlo,” named after the Carl Gustav m/45, a Swedish model, that was created in the final years of World War II

Three-hundred and fifty guns have been uncovered and confiscated by Israeli forces, while the troops have also busted 35 workshops, that house machinists who work in the late night hours, manufacturing barrels, receivers and additional components of the Carlo submachine gun.

The Palestinian towns of the West Bank are among the few locales within the Middle East where it is generally illegal to own any type of firearm, including hunting rifles. Ownership of a firearm could result in a prison sentence. However, those settled in the West Bank who are Jewish are permitted to openly carry weapons.

The small number of Ak-47s within the West Bank, when compared to nations such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, has been kept to this scarce number by way of constant pressure by Israeli forces and the assistance of Palestinian Authorities, who supply Israeli authorities with intel about guns and those who make them.

The Washington Post relays details of a recent raid that uncovered components meant for gun assembly.

“On Monday, Israeli soldiers burst into Nazar Odey’s machine shop in Azzun, where they found what they suspected were gun barrels and bullets, both only half-finished. His drill presses and lathes were muscled out of the shop, dragged by a crane and hauled away by the Israeli army. The doors to the shop, which specialized in retooling brake drums, were welded shut. A mile away and an hour earlier, the 46-year-old father of five was rousted from bed in his pajamas, interrogated in his living room and arrested.”

Six other men were also arrested in the same town, when Israeli soldiers acted on a tip to search the home of the suspect. A sniffer dog was able to discover a gun hidden inside the headboard of a bed, beneath a mound of clothing. The Carlo is a weapon that requires assembly, including multiple parts.

Israelis continued their raid on Azzun by arresting five more men who were suspects in a shooting that had taken place two weeks prior. A sniper who used a Carlo, shot out a tire on a vehicle that was driven by an Israeli, while on the highway passing in front of the town. His intent was to kill, yet he was unsuccessful in this attempt, relays the officer who led the raid, Col. Roi Sheetrit, Efrain Brigade commander.

He went on to describe Azzun as a “classic terror village,” noting that finding one gun along is not as critical as finding and arresting the maker of the gun.

“It looks harsh, but there is no room for leniency,” Sheetrit said.

A senior Israeli commander spoke with the post on what their goal is.

“We want to get to the point where there will not be a single weapon in the West Bank. Our logic is simple, the illegal weapons industry is one of the enablers of attacks,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of security protocols. If we target this industry and reduce it, then the cost of weapons will go up. Those looking for guns will have to make more arrangements and meet more people in order to get the weapons. People will make more mistakes, and the weapons will cost more.”

There is much profit to be gained by creating DIY submachine guns. Most sell for about $500, yet Israelis relay that the price is going up and can be as high as $1,000 for a gun. Military grade weapons that are manufactured overseas can cost as much as $5,000 or more.

Due to the scarce prevalence of guns in the Palestinian occupied portions of the bank, many Palestinian civilians will resort to using knives, sometimes straight from their kitchen. “Young Palestinian men and women who approach Israeli checkpoints with knives are usually shot dead or wounded at the scene; they rarely kill or seriously injure their targets with their knives,” as the Post shares. With guns added, it becomes a much bigger problem. And the number of incidents involving gun assaults by Palestinians is on the rise.

[Feature Image by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images]