Weapons found at the entrance of the tunnel where the IDF foiled an attempted infiltration by Gaza terrorists..
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN'S OFFICE)
A resident from the village of Tamra was convicted on Monday by the Beersheba District Court of conspiring to commit a crime in the theft of weapons from an IDF base in southern Israel, sentencing him to 15 years in prison and imposing a fine of NIS 100,000.
In July of last year, company commander Capt. Shadi Bashir, 24, his driver Adi Zoabi and the defendant Muhammad Zoabi, 48, were indicted for allegedly stealing anti-tank missiles, 77 shrapnel grenades, 13 LAW (Light Antitank Weapon) guided missile launchers and a Matador missile from the Sde Teiman base in the Negev Desert.
Zoabi’s son and Bashir are believed to have loaded the weapons onto a commercial military vehicle, then leaving the base and driving to the Beit Kama junction, where they transferred the stolen weapons into the defendant’s vehicle.
According to details of the investigation, the three men sold the stolen weapons on the black market for thousands of shekels and divided the profits.
Judge Yoel Eden stated, “The defendant played a central and substantial role in a serious affair, which included the theft of large quantities of weapons of a very dangerous type. There remains a real potential for harming civilians and the security of the state, a fear that exists today, since not all of the stolen weapons have been accounted for.”
Eden added, “There’s something about his conduct, his failing to assume responsibility and endangering the safety of the public, even after his arrest, that attests to how dangerous he is. The danger to human lives, the safety of the public and state security are all things that the defendant didn’t consider at all.”
The investigation was part of an ongoing effort by the Israel Police and the IDF to stop the theft of guns and other weapons from bases – which can end up in the hands of criminals and terrorist groups – both by soldiers serving on the bases and by residents of surrounding communities, a phenomenon that has intensified.
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According to the IDF, stolen weapons, including machine guns, grenades and explosives, sometimes end up in the hands of criminal organizations or terrorist groups in the West Bank.
In August, thousands of bullets were stolen from an IDF base in southern Israel, marking the third time a significant theft had occurred this past year despite new security procedures.
According to Walla News, thieves are believed to have broken into the armory on the base and loaded crates of ammunition into their vehicles, getting away with more than 15,000 rounds of ammunition for 5.56mm assault rifles. It is believed they were able to get away with the bullets without arousing suspicion from the guards.
In May, thieves broke into the Tze’elim army base in southern Israel and stole 33 M-16 rifles. While all those involved in the theft have been arrested and more than half of the stolen weapons recovered, the army called the theft “a very serious incident.”
The IDF has recently begun implementing a new security procedure for the employment of contractors in military bases, giving the army more control over who enters. The goal is to reduce the number of weapons theft. The army has also allocated NIS 15 million ($4.2m.) in additional security measures for on-base armories, including installing biometric scanners, additional closed-circuit cameras and improved locks.Yasser Okabi/Maariv Hashavua contributed to this report.
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