Palestinian Crimes Carried out with Israeli Military Weapons
Giving weapons to certain elements or to members of a sect may prove beneficial to us, as it will lead to tension among the various sectors of Arab society and would allow us to control them
The Coordination Committee of the Israeli Security Services, 1952, quoted in the book, Good Arabs: The Israeli Security Agencies and the Israeli Arabs, 1948–1967 by Hillel Cohen
M. B. hails from one of Al-Shaghour villages in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in 1948. He was asked why he shot his relative and deprived him of the ability to walk: His answer was, “If I wanted to kill him, I would have done so, but my goal was to paralyze him so that he would be tormented and remember the incident for the rest of his life.” He adds, “The Israeli police does not help us, so we take the law into our own hands. I warned him repeatedly, but he did not listen. We do not go to the police to solve our problems. Nowadays, you have to take your rights by force: I will not have mercy on anyone because no one showed me any mercy.”
According to data issued by the Israeli police, M. B.’s shooting of his relative is one of thousands of cases that were documented in one year in different regions due to the spread of weapons in the areas where Arab Israelis, also known as 1948 Palestinians live in Israel.
The investigator documented cases of murder and attempted murder in which the perpetrators used weapons sold by Israeli soldiers. The weapons in question could only be available to members of the Israeli armed forces. These have unique serial numbers and are not usually available for sale. In the absence of oversight by the Israeli military, the number of killings in Palestinian populated areas in Israel has gone up.
The Source of Weapons
The State Comptroller oversees the process of monitoring the executive authority, the local authorities and other public bodies established by law in Israel. According to the State Comptroller, the origins of the weapons used by Palestinians in shooting incidents vary: Some of these are smuggled from neighboring countries, and some are bought from Israeli conscripts while others are manufactured locally.
M. B. insists that he bought a weapon from an Israeli soldier called K. S. Judicial documents show that a soldier was prosecuted for selling another officer’s weapon referred to as A. Sh. on the indictment record. This was an M16 automatic rifle, which he had stolen from the camp, and it is the same type of weapon that M. B. used in the shooting incident.Soldiers’ CasesPalestinians’ CasesCase number6/14/20375184-1816\14471\14339/17498/1331498-01-1646\1934\1349\1592/1199/11430/1238/70817\12465\12461\0379\1466\17240\18119\161757\18Case number : 6/14/20375The Magistrate’s CourtMay 2017
A soldier lent his weapon to Palestinians who used it to resolve an issue in the village
Lending a gun in violation of the law
Facts about the Case
Yoram Al-Obeid is a soldier in the Israeli army and knew Obeida Zabarqa and Osama Al-Aymi. He lent them his M16 sometime before April 27, 2017 on a date unknown to the prosecution. They used the soldier’s weapon to resolve a problem in the village and fired several shots from Yoram’s weapon who accompanied them in the car in order to scare the other party involved in the problem that occurred in the village of Laqiya.
Type and number of weapons
Sold to a Palestinian person: (Yes, No)
Date of The verdict
A report published by the State Comptroller in 2019 states that “The army camps continue to fail to collect intelligence about the theft of weapons, and the police have not gathered sufficient information about these incidents.”
A report issued in early May 2020 by the Israeli Ministry of Public Security explains the phenomenon of smuggled weapons: 93% of the investigation files in cases of thefts of weapons were closed by the Israeli authorities, 86% of these were closed because the identities of the suspects were unknown. The report covered the period between 2018 and 2024, and there were only two indictments out of the total number of cases.
A report by the Gun Free Kitchen Tables (GFKT) organization stresses that illegal weapons come from several sources, including the military, Police, border guards storage facilities as well as from regular serving soldiers.
Ayman Odeh, head of the Arab Joint List in the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, accused the Israeli army of knowing that there were 400,000 weapons in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948, and that these had come from the army. He submitted requests to the Israeli Minister of Public Security and to the Chief of the Army’s General Staff to prevent this and said that he would file lawsuits about the issue.
The investigator interviewed two convicts in prison, and they assured her that they had purchased the guns from a policeman.
In early 2021, the Israeli army announced the theft of 93,000 bullets used in M4 and M16 weapons from an army camp in the south of the country. Preliminary investigations did not rule out that soldiers in the camp may have cooperated with the thieves.
Crimes are on the Rise
Data from Israeli courts indicate that gunfire are the main cause of death in 74% of all crimes committed between 2011 and 2019.
Between 2012 and 2019, the death rate in shooting incidents increased froM43% to 63 %, and 1542 Palestinians (from 1948 territories in Israel were killed between 2000 to 2020. According to Aman Center, this constitutes 80% of the total number of recorded killings during that period (in Israel).
Data issued by Israeli courts between 2003 and 2020 reveal that the so called 1948 Palestinians of Israel, have bought weapons from the army, and these were used as part of a business or to commit crimes. The source of weapons in all the monitored Palestinian cases was the Israeli army.15\1\20165\1\201325\12\201810\201715\6\201628\1\201826\7\2020
Date : 15\1\2016The Central Court
Murder in violation of Article (298) of the Penal Code and driving a car without a license or insurance
Facts about the Case
Mohammad is the brother of the defendant Omar. At midnight one day, Mohammad got in trouble with others and called his brother for help. Omar came with his friend Faris and got into an altercation with the young men. Then, they chased the victim’s car and Omar opened fire at the vehicle. The victim was shot in the head, and he died instantly.
Type and number of weapons
Bought from the army: (Yes, No)
The killer is a soldier who used his weapon licensed through the army, with the serial number (3275324)
Omar received a 12-year sentence with a compensation fee of 30,000 Shekels, and Faris was sentenced to 24 months
File number 16832-04-16
Date of The verdict
There has been dozens of shooting cases using M16 rifles; one of these was recorded in January 2021. Shots were fired at a car in the town of Kafr Qara, which led to the death of Suleiman Masarweh and caused serious injuries to Saher Hosheh from Jenin. Saher died of his wounds later.
The 1948 Palestinians in Israel organized protests against such crimes, the complicity of the Israeli police and its failure to confiscate weapons. Thousands of people in various towns in the 1948 territories participated in these protests.
Israeli Channel 12 aired a report revealing unguarded artillery camp where weapons were available openly for anyone who finds them as there was no soldiers guarding that camp.
Another source of guns are the weapons smuggled into the 1948 Palestinian neighborhoods in Israel. This comes amid calls to implement government plans that are not enforced. The latest of these plans drew criticism from the (Arab Israelis) or the 1948 Palestinians in Israel, as the plan does not line up with their needs or align with any previous ones they presented through committees and research. It only mentioned the budget and the ministries that would implement the plan and did not touch on the topic of weapons.
The number of victims is increasing steadily; in 2020, there were 113 such recorded incidents, while in 2010 the number of victims reached 80.
The Israeli Authorities Turn a Blind Eye
The refusal of the Israeli authorities to disclose any information regarding weapons and crime in the 1948 Palestinian populated areas in Israel, prompted us to go to Ayman Odeh, the Arab Member of the Knesset to table a question to the Israeli Minister of Public Security at the Knesset regular cabinet interrogation session.
The Israeli minister reply was that the number of reported shooting incidents in 2019 reached 9,400. In the same year, ninety-five 1948 Palestinians living in Israel were killed, and indictments were issued in only thirty-six of them.
The minister pointed out that the campaign to confiscate weapons only resulted in collecting 285 pieces in 2019. In a session held in early November 2020, he said that the campaigns were on hold in 2020 due to the pandemic, but their budget had been allocated.
Despite the repeated question by the member of the Knesset, Ayman Odeh, the type of weapons used in the crime was not disclosed.
Why Palestinians Living in Israel Resort to Weapons Smuggling?
1948 Palestinians living in Israel cannot own licensed guns due to the complex rules and regulations related to buying and selling them.
In 2015, the Israeli Minister of Public Security published the criteria required for any citizen to obtain a gun license. One of the most important is to be living in an eligible town, such as a settlement or in one of the border towns and this does not apply to the 1948 Palestinians in Israel. Additionally, service in the Israeli army is one of the most important conditions. The standards of using licensed weapons are limited to hunting, sports, or training.
According to the published statistics, the number of licenses granted between 2016 and 2018 among the settlers increased, but the 1948 Palestinians in Israel generally do not meet the criteria, hence they resort to buying smuggled or stolen weapons.
In 2018, the Israeli Minister of Public Security stated that 80% of unlicensed weapons in Israel are in the hands of Arabs and that these weapons were used in committing more than 70% of the crimes in their neighborhood. Approximately 2,500 cases are filed annually related to the illegal possession of weapons.
The investigator sent several requests for information on crimes committed with unlicensed weapons to the police, but to date no response was received.
Official Israeli reports reveal that most of the weapons confiscated by the Israeli police are used again in other crimes, which confirms what M.B. told the investigator.
The 1948 Palestinians in Israel and Weapons
73% of the respondents believe that the rise in crime rates among the the 1948 Palestinians living in Israel is due to the inaction of the Israeli police. 209 Israeli citizens from the 1948 Palestinian community took part in the survey: 15% of them believe that the Israeli army is the source of the weapons while 76 % of the respondents believe that the penalty for possessing a weapon is not severe enough.
An ad hoc Israeli Knesset committee had discussed an initial draft of a plan that would curb the scourge of violence in the 1948 Palestinian areas without involving any of the community. The proliferation of weapons and their sources were discussed only superficially.
Legal and Illegal Weapons
According to the Gun Free Kitchen Tables report issued in 2017, the number of licensed guns in Israel stood at 320,000. A 2015 statement by the Israeli Minister of Public Security announced that the number of illegal weapons in 2014 amounted to 400,000 pieces. There are no updated statistics even now, more than five years later. The Ministry of Public Security does not disclose this data, and no entity has any official data on the matter.
The investigator obtained data from the Right to Access Information Association: The number of new weapons licensed in Israel between 2016 and 2018 was about 25,000 guns. These figures do not include those whose licenses have expired, and there is no data showing the number of new weapons or even the newly granted licenses.
In 2015, former Minister of Homeland Security Gilad Erdan admitted that 80% of unlicensed weapons enter circulation as licensed weapons. Member of the Knesset Sondus Saleh commented on this with, “No one knows where these weapons end up or whether they will reach unauthorized entities.”
According to the 2017 State Comptroller’s report, shootings in the Jewish circles increased by 17.5%, and the violent use of weapons went up 12 times in the Jewish sector. 95% of the total number of shooting cases in Israel were among the 1948 Palestinian community in Israel.
The State Comptroller also points out that more than 70% of the total number of crimes were committed by people without prior criminal records.
Other data indicate that a thousand shooting incidents were recorded between 2015 and 2017. According to Member of the Knesset Yousef Jabarin, six offences were filed, and all these cases were in Umm Al-Fahm.
Aman Center indicates that 80% of the killings were carried out with a firearm that had nothing to do with organized crime, and this confirms that the availability of weapons and not organized crime is the real reason for the high number of victims.Since 2000, 1,596 Palestinians have been killed in Israel:
51 victims 43 men and 8 women
58 victims 44 men and 14 women
64 victims 10 men and 44 women
72 victims 62 men and 10 women
76 victims 62 men and 10 women
96 victims 85 men and 11 women
113 victims 79 men and 17 women
Since the beginning of 2021
79 victims all of them menSource: Data from Aman
Inconsistencies in the Data of the Israeli Army
The Israeli army published contradictory data about the numbers of soldiers accused of stealing weapons. On its website, the army reported that 117 light pieces were stolen between 2011 and 2018. This data does not cover 2012 due to the war on Gaza.
The Israeli authorities filed a request to access information about the soldiers convicted from 2008 until September 2019: This report states that the number of soldiers convicted of theft amounted to 221. There was no response to the request for publishing detailed data of such incidents for each year.
Data on Soldiers’ Offenses
The indictment list in all the cases
Judicial rulings (included in the above cases)
Illegal use of weapons
Theft (stolen items are not specified)
Removing or theft of a property
Brandishing weapons and gear
Not guarding property
Not guarding weapons
The response of the Israeli army highlighted an amendment made by the Military Advocate General in October 2018.
Under the amendment, soldiers accused of stealing weapons cannot face indictment; this would only happen in certain cases after examining their rank, the reasons for the theft and the background.
Israeli Army Reports on Stolen Weapons
Number of Weapons23940532–1This investigation was conducted with the support of ARIJ.
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