Much has been written about the proliferation of illegal guns in America. Unfortunately, Israel faces a similar problem with the Arab population and illegal gun possession. In the United States, illegal guns have fueled a crime wave the likes of which have never been seen before. In 2022, crime was up 22% in 2022 in New York City. Illegal guns from Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia, and Pennsylvania that are driven up Interstate 95 on the “Iron Pipeline” to New York have wreaked havoc on the citizens of New York. In Israel, most of the illegal guns and terrorists hail from Jenin and Nablus. The source of the illegal guns in Israel is somewhat more complicated.
The Neve Yaakov massacre of seven Israelis on Shabbos, January 27, at the Ateret Avraham Synagogue, and the shooting by a 13-year-old of a father and son in Silwan the next day highlights 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 November 18, 2014.
The outset of the transfer of illegal guns in Israel began in 1993, when the Oslo Accords gave guns to the Arabs. Since the Oslo Accords, 300 Israelis were killed in terrorist incidents from 1993 to 2000. After the Intifada of 2000 to 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 in 2022. The IDF foiled 500 potential terror attacks in 2022.
The removal of checkpoints in Israel 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 Israel. 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 is rampant.
In Israel, many of the illegal guns have come from Iran. In 2002, Israel captured the Karine-A with 50 tons of weapons headed for Gaza from Iran. In 2009, Israel seized the Antigua-flagged vessel named “Francop” with 300 tons of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah. In 2014, Israel intercepted the Klos-C Merchant ship, sailing under the Panama flag from Iran to Gaza with advanced missiles and other weapons. On January 7, 2023, the US Navy seized a vessel containing 2,100 assault rifles from Iran to 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 the Iranian exports of illegal weapons will terrorism decrease in Israel. Illegal guns remain an ongoing problem in both America and Israel. The problem can be dealt with if leadership addresses the root causes and sources. Law enforcement in the United States and the IDF in Israel have their work cut out to bring this epidemic to an end.
Dr. Joe Frager is Chairman of the Israel Advocacy Commission for the Rabbinical Alliance of America; Chairman of the Executive Committee of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim; Dean at Kollel Ayshel Avraham; Executive Vice President of the Israel Heritage Foundation; and a physician in practice for 41 years.