JERUSALEM – For the last two years, Iran has been smuggling thousands of weapons into the West Bank using a complex network of routes stretching across four countries. With Israel’s ground invasion in full swing, intelligence officials are worried that terror groups operating inside Israel could open a new front in the war.
Sima Shine, a former intelligence officer with Israel’s Mossad spy agency, showed CBN News a map produced by her institute that shows the extensive network Iran is using to smuggle weapons to the West Bank and beyond.
Shine, now with the Institute for National Security Studies, said, “Iran is the main proliferator in the region. They send UAVs and missiles to the Houthis in Yemen, to their militias in Iraq, to Lebanon to Hezbollah, to Hamas in Gaza and they have their presence in Syria. So what happens in the region wherever you find any conflict, you find the fingerprints of Iran.”
According to reports, Israeli intelligence noticed a spike in arms flowing to the West Bank between 2021 and 2023. It took action, reportedly stopping 35 shipments, and seizing more than 800 weapons.
Dr. Jonathan Spyer of the Middle East Forum said, “There was a quiet, a significant consignment intercepted by Israel close to a place called Ashdad Yacov on the border in which it was found that quiet sophisticated IEDs were being brought into the West Bank.”
Then in July, in one of its largest operations, Israel deployed more than 2,000 troops to the Jenin refugee area, arresting two dozen terrorists and seizing more than 1,000 weapons and hundreds of explosive devices. Six bomb-making facilities were also destroyed.
The majority of the weapons confiscated, including drugs, were said to have transited through Jordan, a key U.S. and Israel ally in the region.
Avi Melamed, Author of Inside the Middle East, said, “The Jordanians are enormously disturbed by that development, and rightly so.”
Israel and Jordan share a 300-mile border that runs through the West Bank. Intelligence officials worry Iran is attempting to turn Jordan into one of the key transit areas for weapons intended for use by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group which operates in the West Bank and is closely allied with Hamas.
“The Jordanians made it very clear, particularly in the last months, that they would not stand for that and they started attacking,” Melamed said.
Now, there’s concern Israel could face a new front from terror groups operating inside the West Bank.
Dr. Jonathan Spyer said, “Yes, there’s clearly that potential. There’s organizations that exist. They are heavily armed. They have personnel. They have money, they have will, so they have the capacity to launch attacks.”
Since the October 7th attacks, Israeli security services launched multiple raids In Jenin, one of the West Bank’s most volatile cities, arresting more than 1,400 terrorists. Last week, the IDF also targeted a terror cell believed to be close to launching an attack.
IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said, “Thanks to accurate intelligence and cooperation with the General Security Service, we identified and eliminated a terrorist cell that was a ticking time bomb. It was responsible for many attacks and planned to carry out a murderous attack within the territory of the State of Israel.”
As the IDF continues to pummel Gaza, the government here is also tightening security across parts of Jerusalem and the West Bank to ensure violence and potential terror attacks don’t open a new front on Israel.
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