Iran runs massive arms smuggling operation to foment West Bank unrest, report says

Weeks after Shin Bet exposed large Iranian arms shipment, New York Times reveals Tehran's elaborate smuggling network which Israel tries to chock out; Iranian intelligence units boost Palestinian terror groups

Iran is operating secret smuggling routes across the Middle East and employing intelligence agents, armed militias and criminal organizations to transfer weapons to Palestinians in the West Bank, The New York Times reported on Tuesday, citing sources from the United States, Israel and Iran.
According to Iranian sources, the goal is to foment unrest among Palestinians against Israel by flooding the West Bank with as many weapons as possible.
Israeli forces intercept Iranian arms shipment headed for West Bank
(Video: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

The report details that the Iranians are directing their smuggling efforts along two main routes. The first involves Iran-backed militias and Iranian operatives transporting weapons from Syria to Jordan.
From there, the sources say, the weapons are handed over to Bedouin smugglers who then move them to the border with Israel, where they are passed to criminal organizations that transport them into the West Bank.
The Iranian effort is anchored in a well-established smuggling route through Jordan, which shares a border with Israel. Last year, Jordanian Member of Parliament Imad al-Adwan was arrested in Israel carrying approximately 200 handguns and rifles he attempted to smuggle through the Allenby Bridge crossing but was eventually released back to Jordan.
One senior Iranian official disclosed to The Times that since October 7, Israel and Jordan have tightened security along their borders due to concerns over smuggling.
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סיכול הברחות אמל"ח באיו"ש שמקורם באיראן, על ידי כוחות הביטחון
סיכול הברחות אמל"ח באיו"ש שמקורם באיראן, על ידי כוחות הביטחון
Israeli forces intercept Iranian arms shipment headed for West Bank
(Photo: Shin Bet)
The second and more challenging route, according to two senior U.S. officials, runs from Syria to Lebanon. From there, most of the weapons are smuggled into Israel. Criminal organizations collect them in Lebanon and transport them to the West Bank.
Most of the smuggled weapons, experts told The Times, are light arms such as handguns and assault rifles. However, U.S. and Israeli sources believe that Iran is also smuggling more advanced weaponry, including sophisticated explosive devices and anti-tank missiles, posing a greater challenge for the IDF and security forces.
U.S. sources and two Israeli ones reported that last week's series of strikes in Syria targeted two Iranian intelligence brigades involved in the smuggling operations. One unit, known as "Division 4000," is under the direct command of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. The second, known as "Unit 18840," is operated by the Quds Force.
Days before the attack attributed to Israel in Damascus, which resulted in the death of Revolutionary Guards senior officer Mohammed Reza Zahedi, Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei approved support for Palestinian terror organizations receiving substantial arms from Iran.
He met In Tehran with leaders from two main terrorist factions - Ismail Haniyeh from Hamas, and Ziyad al-Nakhala from Palestinian Islamic Jihad. According to Iranian state media, Khamenei assured both that Tehran would not hesitate to support them and their goals.
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איסמעיל הנייה בביקור באיראן וחמינאי
איסמעיל הנייה בביקור באיראן וחמינאי
Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei meets with Hamas' Ismail Haniyeh in Tehran, last month
"It would not have been easy for the Palestinian people to withstand this battle without Iran's continuous and consistent support at all political, military and security levels," al-Nakhala said in a speech in Tehran.
Last month, the Shin Bet and IDF announced that security forces intercepted an advanced arms shipment from Iran intended for the West Bank. According to the joint statement, Iranian security elements have been attempting to smuggle weapons into the West Bank in recent months to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli targets.
Among the arms seized were rockets, shrapnel charges, mines and RPG launchers. Additionally, 50 handguns, 33 M4 rifles, explosives, 13 anti-tank missiles and 25 grenades were found.
The smuggling operation was coordinated by the Revolutionary Guards' special operations division, led by Ghaani Javad Afari, former commander of the Quds Force in Syria.
The Shin Bet and IDF detained Palestinian operatives planning to carry out attacks against Israeli targets. Investigations also brought to light the recent activities of Munir Makdah, a Palestinian residing in Ein al-Hilweh, Lebanon, known for years as an operator for Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guards, continuing his efforts to orchestrate attacks.
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