(photo credit: INIMAGE)
A Beduin soldier from the Negev was arrested Tuesday night for stealing two mini-Tavor assault rifles from an IDF base in central Israel, which police say he plotted to sell on the black market, part of a trend that speaks to the growing popularity of the Tavor in the Israeli underworld.
The soldier was arrested last night in an area of Beduin settlements in the Negev, after they were trailed by police and Border Patrol officers who pulled them over and searched the car, finding a mini-Tavor in the vehicle.
The soldier claimed it was his service rifle, but police contacted the army and the serial number matched a rifle stolen from Tze’elim Base a week earlier.
The soldier and the second suspect were then taken for questioning, during which the Southern District said their detectives were able to determine that the soldier stole a second mini-Tavor that he sold to a man in the Beduin city of Rahat. Police then arrested that man and searched his house, confiscating the rifle.
Chief Inspector Reuven Nawi, said in a police statement on Tuesday that the suspects stole the guns not long before they were arrested and that they believe “that their goal was to sell the weapons, which would have made their way easily into the hands of organized crime or terrorist groups in exchange for tens of thousands of shekels.”
The seizure illustrates the new-found popularity of the Tavor within the Israeli underworld, where it has become highly sought after on the firearms black market. While a Kalashnikov assault rifle smuggled into Israel from the West Bank or Jordan can retail for around NIS 20,000-NIS 30,000, a Tavor, like an M-16 in top condition, can sell for well over NIS 50,000.
An officer with the Southern District told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that “we’re seeing more and more of these seizures in the past year or so, ever since it went into service with the IDF. We assume that we’ll continue to see much more.”
In 2012, the IDF began transitioning away from the M-16 in favor of the Tavor, which is lighter, more stable and jams less often. The micro-Tavor is the smallest model of the assault rifle, and is issued to commando units and front line infantry troops.