Fishing resources

The IDF’s campaign to prevent smuggling and terrorism along Israel’s longest border

The Israel Defense Forces have invested “very high levels of resources” in preventing terror attacks in the Jordan border region, an infantry officer told JNS, adding that a special level of preparedness has been put in place. in place on Thursday for a safe return to school by neighborhood school children.

Capt. Year Hayoun, a company commander in the mixed IDF Bardelas battalion, told JNS about his unit’s uninterrupted action to secure the Arava region, which stretches from the Dead Sea to Eilat, against threats to security and a rising tide of illegal smuggling attempts. weapons and narcotics in Israel.

Hayoun said intercepting illegal contraband was a regular feature of his unit’s work along the Jordanian and Egyptian borders, adding that over the past few months the company had intercepted 60 firearms, 16,000 pills of ecstasy and ammunition.

“We encounter these attempts approximately every two months,” the officer said. “We are not only acting against smuggling, but also against terroristssome of which may come from inside Israel. We don’t just focus on the fence. We secure communities along Route 90, the Masada site and 13 Dead Sea hotels.

Whether intercepting terrorists or disrupting illegal smuggling attempts that could see terrorists or criminals receiving automatic weapons, Hayoun said that in some cases there is advance intelligence, and in others other cases, the unit should operate without such alerts.

“I look at it as fishing; it takes a lot of patience,” he said. “We’re going to come to a sector and scan it. If a terrorist wants to carry out a knife attack, we probably won’t know until it happens. We choose a certain sector and start activating our [intelligence-collection] means.”

This includes scouts, aerial drones and receiving information from IDF observation posts that are part of the Army’s Border Defense Force.

“This allows us to thwart incidents. We do not work alone as an isolated company. We couldn’t do it without Pathfinders, Observation Officers, Combat Collection Units, Police, or Community Safety Coordinators. Our cooperation with the wider support envelope is very important,” he explained.

Smuggled weapons confiscated by the Israel Defense Forces during an attack in northern Israel, July 9, 2021. Source: IDF.

“An increase in the number of smuggling attempts”

Every few days, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit sends out updates on the type of operational activity that units like Hayoun’s companies are carrying out along the Jordanian and Egyptian borders, which, although classified as peaceful , still attract terrorist and criminal elements from the region to try their luck. .

On Monday, for example, Israeli Border Police forces announced the seizure of 26 handguns in the Jordan Valley region. In recent days, the IDFwith the Israel Police, Ministry of Defense and other agenciesannounced that since the beginning of this year, security forces have prevented the smuggling of around 300 illegal weapons and 2,150 kilograms of drugs into Israel.

“Smuggling was prevented along the borders with Jordan and Egypt by soldiers of the 80th Division [which secures the Egyptian and Jordanian borders] and the 417th Jordan Valley Brigade,” the IDF said. “The figures for 2022 so far reflect an increase in the number of attempts to smuggle drugs and weapons into Israeli territory, as well as a significant increase in the scope of countermeasures to this trend.”

Security forces view every smuggling attempt as a security threat, and the increase in the amount of contraband seized reflects the quality of countermeasures, the IDF noted. So far this year, Israel has prevented 40 drug smuggling operations worth a total of around NIS 135 million (about $40 million), according to the military, and 18 attempts to smuggle weapons to the Jordanian border, resulting in the seizure of approximately 300 weapons.

In 2020 and 2021 combined, the IDF intercepted 21 contraband cases and some 300 weapons in two years. In recent months, the 80th Division has begun implementing the ‘Defense in Colour’ strategy, the military said, which aims to increase the protection of vital assets and maximize the effectiveness of the security forces operating across large desert areas by assigning each sector a color that reflects the local threat level and operational response.

The strategy has led to a record number of failed attempts to smuggle drugs and illegal weapons into the division’s jurisdiction, the military said. The effort saw the opening of joint smuggling crisis rooms in the IDF’s Central and Southern Commands, in which representatives from the IDF, Israel Police, The Israeli security agency (Shin Bet) and other agencies create an updated intelligence picture and formulate a joint response to smuggling attempts.

Addressing the mixed composition of his company, Hayoun said: “Everyone has the same uniform, and I expect the same things from my male and female soldiers. All disrupt arms smuggling. In a recent incident, a combat officer arrested the smuggler, after being directed to the scene by a male officer.

The same requirements are in place regarding operations and preparedness, the officer said.

‘Ready at every hour and in every sector’

The Bardelas Battalion is the third mixed battalion to be formed in the Israeli army, the other two being the Caracal and Lion of the Valley battalions.

Bardelas was founded in August 2015 and began operational activities a year later, according to the IDF website. Training for male and female fighters lasts seven months and includes weapons shooting, urban warfare and other forms of combat.

Hayoun, who joined the battalion in 2016, said those who serve get used to its mixed composition and find it very natural. Some adjustments need to be made, he added, including being aware that there are “certain living quarters that I cannot enter”.

“We are ready on the hour and in all sectors, and we are deployed to the maximum,” he said.

If it is always possible to complain about a lack of equipment or resources, “since the creation of the State, the approach has been to win with what we have. This is also our approach today,” he stressed. “We are happy to have the privilege of defending the people of Israel.”