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Prices of illegal weapons in West Bank on the rise

The Palestinian police have been leading wide-scale efforts to crack down on gun manufacturing and illegal trade in a bid to reduce the phenomenon of tribal and family shootings, while prices of illegal weapons have been soaring.
Palestinian teenagers handle a nine millimeter semi-automatic pistol in the Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem January 4, 2001. The Dheisheh refugee camp hosts thousands of Palestinian refugees since the 1948 Israeli occupation. [Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat began consulting Arab leaders in Cairo on Thursday on U.S. President Bill Clinton's peace proposals before announcing whether he accepts them.   ] - RTXK7RJ

A marked increase in the black market price of weapons in the occupied territories has produced a flurry of attention. Press reports have indicated for example that the coveted M16 gun that used to be sold for 40,000 shekels ($10,400) a year ago is currently sold for 65,000 shekels ($17,000). Pundits are not clear as to the reason for this spike and whether it is a result of the Israeli crackdown on smuggling on the Jordanian and Egyptian borders, or of the Palestinian security campaigns following fatal shootings in local feuds. A third argument suggests that maybe Palestinians are hording guns in fear of potential lawlessness and chaos in the Palestinian territories.

Two Palestinians were killed and 14 were injured on June 29 in a tribal dispute in the northern West Bank town of Yabad. In Nablus, violence using illegal guns led to five deaths on the same day. While use of illegal weapons has continued, no fatalities have occurred since.

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