Police said Monday that over 60 people were arrested in a series of overnight raids across the country after a year-long operation investigating the trade of drugs and illegal weapons.
The operation was carried out with the help of an influential criminal who was recruited to act as an undercover agent. Police said the unnamed criminal is a member of the Arab community.
Police said that over the course of the operation, the agent purchased five M-16 assault rifles, three Kalashnikov assault rifles, four handguns and three explosive devices, as well as more than ten kilograms of cocaine and over a kilogram of heroin.
According to Channel 12 news, the unnamed individual was identified as a potential agent a year ago and was recruited by the police intelligence unit. An officer was sent undercover to act as his driver and bodyguard throughout the operation.
The investigation probed the trade of weapons, drugs and explosives in both the Arab and Jewish communities.
Police said they arrested suspects in Rehovot, Lod, Nes Ziona, Beit Dagan, Petah Tikva, Ramle, Taibe, Jaljulia, Kafr Qasim, Tel Aviv, Holon, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Shaqib al-Salam, Tel Sheva, Rahat, Ashdod, Heletz, Acre, Nazareth and Basma.
Interim Israel Police commissioner Motti Cohen said following the arrests that public safety was of the utmost importance, with a focus on working with the Arab community.
“The focus of the force will be directed at rooting out crime affecting the personal safety of the Israeli public. We see importance in strengthening the confidence of Israel’s Arab community,” he said.
Recent months have seen a wave of crime and killings in the Arab Israeli community. Arab leaders say the Israel Police largely ignores the violence in their communities, which includes family feuds and mafia turf wars, domestic violence and so-called honor killings.