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Iran Smuggling Weapons Through Secret Route To Palestinians In Israeli-Occupied West Bank: Report

07:22 AM Apr 11, 2024 IST | NEWS Desk
iran smuggling weapons through secret route to palestinians in israeli occupied west bank  report
Iran Smuggling Weapons Through Secret Route To Palestinians In Israeli-Occupied West Bank: Report

Tehran [Iran]: Iran has been delivering weapons to Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank through a secret smuggling route across the Middle East and has employed intelligence operatives, militants and criminal gangs for the task, The New York Times reported citing officials from the US, Israel and Iran.

The aim of operating this secret route is to foment unrest against Israel by flooding the enclave with as many weapons as it can, three Iranian officials were quoted by the NYT as saying.

The covert operation has raised concerns that Tehran is seeking to turn the West Bank into the next flashpoint in the long-simmering shadow war between Israel and Iran.

The raging conflict in Gaza took on a new dimension this month, risking a broader conflict in the Middle East, as Tehran vowed to retaliate in response to an Israeli strike on an embassy compound that killed seven Iranian armed forces commanders.

Many weapons smuggled into the West Bank largely travel along two paths from Iran through Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel, the officials said. As the arms cross borders, the officials added, they change hands among a multinational cast that can include members of organized criminal gangs, extremist militants, soldiers and intelligence operatives, The New York Times reported.

A key group in the operation, the Iranian officials and analysts said, are Bedouin smugglers who carry the weapons across the border from Jordan into Israel.

The NYT interviewed senior security and government officials with knowledge of Iran's effort to smuggle weapons into the West Bank, including three from Israel, three from Iran and three from the US. The officials from all three countries requested anonymity while discussing covert operations, as they were not authorised to speak publicly.

"The Iranians wanted to flood the West Bank with weapons, and they were using criminal networks in Jordan, in the West Bank and in Israel, primarily Bedouin, to move and sell the products," said Matthew Levitt, director of the counterterrorism program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a research-based think-tank, and the author of a study on the smuggling route.

Earlier, Iran vowed a response to the Israeli strike on its embassy in Syria saying that the attack "won't remain unanswered", CNN reported, citing Iran's semi-official news outlet, Tasnim.

Iran's top general attended the funeral procession of military officer Mohammed Reza Zahedi on Saturday, vowing that his country would respond to the strike on its embassy in Damascus that claimed the lives of top figures from its Revolutionary Guard Corps.

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