JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli security forces intercepted a boat Monday on the Dead Sea carrying assault rifles and ammunition from Jordan, Israeli authorities said.
The military provided a photograph showing a haul of 10 Kalashnikov rifles and the same number of ammunition clips. Two men on board, Palestinians in their forties, were arrested, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. He said the intended destination of the weapons was unclear.
The military said it was treating the incident as an attempted weapons smuggling operation and not as an attempted militant attack. Army Radio described the vessel as a rubber dinghy.
Rosenfeld said the arrests capped a police operation that lasted several weeks.
The Dead Sea, a landlocked salt lake at the lowest point on the earth's surface, is split between Israeli and Jordanian control. The northwestern section of the lake is in the West Bank, which the Palestinians claim as part of a future state.
Israel and Jordan have a peace agreement, and their frontier is generally quiet. The lake, popular with tourists, is only lightly patrolled, and there is little boat traffic there, as the body of water, about 55 miles (90 kilometers) long and up to 9 miles (15 kilometers) wide, has no outlet. A trickle of water flows into it from the Jordan River, and much of it evaporates in the hot desert climate.
Israeli authorities have identified the lake as a route for smugglers with small boats. They bring drugs into Israel from Jordan, the Israelis say, but weapons seizures are rare.
The military said over the past year there have been two foiled attempts to smuggle items across the Dead Sea. In one case, smugglers used a boat, and in the other, they tried to swim. Both cases involved drugs. The military provided no information on previous years.