JAFFA, Israel – The Israel Defense Forces on Thursday raided an arms cache near Nablus in the West Bank, arresting 13 suspects for illegally possessing and trading in firearms, including the head of security at the city’s Al Najjah University.
The high-profile detainee, Talaat Sayeg, is an associate of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.
On Wednesday, Breitbart Jerusalem reported that demand for firearms in the West Bank has soared, leading to an exponential increase in prices.
Palestinian officials have been arming loyalist groups ahead of President Mahmoud Abbas’ prospective departure, marking a decline in law and order in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority that culminated only last month in the killing of two security officers in a scuffle.
The official said that some Palestinian firearms have more than doubled in price. An M4 rifle costs NIS 85,000, as opposed to NIS 60,000 a few weeks ago. An M16 rifle costs anywhere between NIS 60-70,000, as opposed to NIS 40,000 only recently. A Tavor rifle costs NIS 90,000, as opposed to NIS 65,000. As a result of the arms race, Palestinians have converted rifles that fire rubber bullets so they can fire live ammunition, and sell them for NIS 28,000-35,000.
Pistol prices have also gone up. A Glock 14 costs NIS 42,000, as opposed to NIS 22,000 up until recently. A Jericho has doubled in price: From NIS 18,000 to NIS 36,000.
“The price hike testifies to soaring demand, and it is clear that the West Bank is getting closer to breaking point,” he said. “Once it happens, everybody wants to be ready.”
Earlier this month, two Palestinian security officers were killed in a clash with gunmen in Nablus, pushing the West Bank closer to anarchy.
The officers were shot and killed after they tried to intervene in a scuffle between local youths, some of whom were armed, that went out of control.
The shooting took place shortly after a similar incident in nearby Jenin, where three Palestinians were killed in a shooting. There too, PA forces were called on to intervene.
The deadly incidents indicate that unsupervised weapons are mushrooming in the West Bank, as Breitbart Jerusalem previously reported.
Over the last few weeks, the IDF has arrested a growing number of young Palestinians, mainly affiliated with Fatah, on charges of dealing in and illegally possessing firearms.
A Palestinian security source also told Breitbart Jerusalem in recent days that Palestinian Authority leaders jockeying for power have started arming loyalist groups as President Mahmoud Abbas appears set to step down at some point in the near future.
The source said that the decline of the Palestinian Authority’s central command has led to the disruption of law and order in the West Bank, a trend exacerbated by PA political and security officials, who are trying to lay the foundations for the morning after Abbas’ departure, “which they estimate is around the corner.”
Thursday’s raid reportedly yielded five M16 rifles, three pistols, and a machine gun. The detainees were virtually all Fatah activists loyal to Abbas. The raid lasted eight long hours, attesting to the seriousness of the findings.