Shin Bet says it foiled Iranian plot to smuggle advanced weapons to W. Bank terrorists.

Iranian weapons smuggled into the West Bank captured by Israeli forces, in a handout image published March 25, 2024. (Shin Bet.)

The Shin Bet security agency revealed on Monday it had recently foiled attempts by Iran to smuggle large amounts of advanced weapons to terror operatives in the West Bank to be used in attacks on Israeli targets.

According to the Shin Bet, behind the plot was Iran’s Unit 4000, the Special Operations Division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Intelligence Organization, headed by Jawad Ghafari, and the special operations unit of the IRGC’s Quds Force in Syria, known as Unit 18840, which is subordinate to the head of Iran’s Unit 840, Asghar Bakri.

The plot was uncovered by the Shin Bet and the Israel Defense Forces during the interrogations of Palestinians arrested on suspicion of planning terror attacks.

The investigation also revealed that a senior Fatah official, Munir Makdah, a resident of Lebanon’s Ein el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, was involved in the plans, the Shin Bet said.

Makdah, according to the Shin Bet, has been known to Israel for years as “working for Hezbollah and the IRGC, and continues to try and advance terror attacks these days.”

During the interrogation of the detained Palestinian suspects, the Shin Bet said it emerged that Makdah worked to recruit West Bank Palestinians to carry out terror attacks and smuggle in Iranian weapons, as well as fund attacks.

(Left) Jawad Ghafari, the head of the Special Operations Division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Intelligence Organization, and (right) Munir Makdah, a Senior Fatah official from Lebanon’s Ein el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, in an undated image. (Courtesy, via Shin Bet.)

The Shin Bet said the IDF captured a “significant” amount of advanced arms from Iran that were smuggled into the West Bank, as part of the investigation into Makdah and the Iranian plot.

Among the weapons captured were two large BTB15 fragmentation bombs, five YM-2 anti-tank landmines with fuses, four M203 grenade launchers, 15 kilograms of C4 explosives, 10 kilograms of Semtex plastic explosives, 13 shoulder-launched anti-tank missiles, 15 RPG launchers, 16 RPG-7 rockets and propellent, 15 hand grenades, 33 M4 assault rifles and 50 handguns.

The Shin Bet said it was working with the IDF to locate additional Iranian weapons smuggled into the West Bank, as well as kill or capture terror cells recruited by Iran.

The agency said it “takes a grave view” of the attempt by Iran and its proxies, adding that it will “continue to carry out active measures at all times to monitor and thwart any activity that endangers the security of the State of Israel and its citizens, to expose and harm the Iranians’ efforts to carry out terror activities within Israel’s territory and will work to bring those involved to justice.”

Earlier this month, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Iran was seeking to promote major terror attacks by smuggling weapons into the West Bank.

“We must prepare for an increase in terror during Ramadan,” Gallant said to troops of the elite Duvdevan unit on March 11.

“Iran is working to up the severity of attacks by smuggling in many weapons,” he said, describing the arms as “high-quality.”

Israel has previously announced that it had foiled attempts to smuggle Iranian-made explosives into Israel and the West Bank from Jordan.

Weapons smuggling is a constant challenge for Israel, along its long, porous eastern border with Jordan, and in the West Bank. Officials believe most guns are being used for underworld crime, and have vowed to crack down on them as part of an effort to end years of bloodshed in the Arab community.

Unlike Israel’s other frontiers — with Egypt, Lebanon and Syria — the border with Jordan is largely open, often without significant fencing, and guarding is limited, making it an easy channel for large-scale smuggling.