Retrieved weapons stolen from an IDF base in southern Israel.
(photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
Police on Monday said they arrested six Israelis on suspicion of stealing 33 guns from a weapons warehouse on a southern IDF base and then selling them to criminal organizations.
According to a police statement, the break-in at the Sde Teiman base on May 26 was carried out by building contractors and painters who were renovating parts of the base. As the investigation progressed, additional suspects were arrested in northern Israel on suspicion of trafficking the 33 stolen M16 rifles.
“During the investigation, it emerged that the burglary method and sale were planned in detail by two of the suspects,” the statement said. “The two worked systematically and the same day sold ten weapons to criminal organizations in the South, 18 weapons to criminal organizations in the North, and four days later another five weapons were sold to criminal organizations in the North.”
Channel 2 reported that the painters are brothers who were able to move freely on the base after gaining the trust of their IDF minders.
Police said the suspects transferred a vehicle with weapons hidden in the trunk to buyers at a gas station on Route 6.
Eleven of the stolen weapons were recovered, and an additional rifle, two pistols, a large quantity of various drugs and vehicles were seized by the police, according to the statement.
The suspects were brought to court on Monday, where police were seeking to extend their remands.
The incidents come after the IDF announced a directive last month that allows soldiers to shoot at the legs of suspected burglars attempting to steal weapons from bases and training grounds.
Last month, burglars broke into the Tze’elim army base in southern Israel, escaping with a cutting-edge and expensive thermal- vision device. That theft was committed two weeks after several weapons were stolen from an IDF base in the Golan Heights.
The suspects, two residents of Tuba-Zanghariya, were later arrested.
In July of last year, an IDF army captain, his driver and his driver’s father were indicted for allegedly stealing anti-tank missiles, 77 shrapnel grenades and a Matador missile from a base in the Negev Desert. They are suspected of selling the weapons on the black market.Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.