The bottom fell out of the market for Kalashnikov rifles in Gaza this week, as smugglers from Egypt suddenly found that no one was really trying to keep their arms out of the place any more:
Palestinian gunrunners smuggled hundreds of assault rifles and pistols across the Egyptian frontier into Gaza, dealers and border officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The influx confirmed Israeli fears about giving up border control and could further destabilize Gaza.Another report has the price even lower:
Black market prices for weapons dropped sharply, with AK-47 assault rifles nearly cut in half to $1,300 and even steeper reductions for handguns.
News of the smuggling came as Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas tried to impose order following the Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza this week. Militant groups scoffed at a new Palestinian Authority demand that they disband after parliamentary elections in January, saying they would not surrender weapons.
An arms dealer said the price of an AK-47 assault rifle has dropped from around £1,000 (€1,484) to around £650 (€965). Bullets for the weapon are now being sold for as little as three shekels (around 50p) when previously they cost up to 18 shekels.That's the price for black-market militant groups. One wonders what the Palestinian Authority is paying for its arms. Less, because it can take advantage of wholesale prices and commercial shipping? Or more, because it involves kickbacks to every corrupt official along the way?
Indonesia, meanwhile, has decided to address the problem of small arms being too expensive in another way -- build its own:
Indonesian arms industry PT Pindad has started to produce rifles which are lighter and cheaper than US-made M-16 or Russia's AK-47 and potentially will become the standard rifle of any Indonesian soldier, an executive said Thursday.Expense shouldn't be the primary consideration in picking a battle rifle. The question that you should be asking is, "But will it work?" Still, there's no reason it shouldn't work. Rifles aren't that hard to build -- the technology has been mature for a long time.
"The SS-2 rifle will be tested by a platoon of soldiers in the Army, the Air Force and the Navy," Sutarto, an expert staff for Pindad's director of military production, was quoted as saying by the Antara news agency.
He said the 5.5-mm caliber SS-2, produced with significant improvement from the earlier series of SS-1, is designed to become the standard rifle of Indonesian soldiers.
He claimed that the local rifle is much cheaper than any other rifles of the same category.
Pindad spokesman Timbul Sitompul said separately an SS-2 is priced at some 500 US dollars, far below the price of an M-16 which is sold at 1,000 dollars in the market.