The IDF and Israel Police on Thursday, successfully foiled the largest arms smuggling operation across the Lebanon border, in the country's history the police said.
Some 61 weapons and drugs with a total value of some NIS 3,500,000, were seized and three Arab residents of the north were arrested.
The operation began early on Thursday morning after the IDF alerted the police that suspects were seen approaching the border from the Lebanese side.
The police began their surveillance and identified the suspects on the Israeli side as they approached and apprehended them after setting up a road block on a local highway. the suspects attempted to escape but were quickly stopped and arrested by the police.
In a search of their vehicle, 61 weapons were seized in two cases: 58 handguns, three M16 assault rifles, and a substance suspected as heroin weighing half a kilogram (1.1 pounds).
Police Northern District Commander Shimon Lavi said the weapons would have been put to use by criminal elements had they not been captured.
" Anyone who buys an illegal weapon of this caliber, buys it to use it,” he said. "It is not about the number of weapons we caught, it is about the lives we managed to save, some certainly might have been innocent citizens and even children who could have been harmed,” he said.
The police has increased their fight against illegal weapons use and predominately Arab crime gangs after violence in the sector spiked in recent years.
"We have taken power from the instigators of criminal activity in Arab society, as part of our effort to give local residents the personal security that we all are entitled to,” Lavi said.
In the first three months of 2022, police said they have thwarted four smuggling attempts from Lebanon, during which 120 weapons were seized.