70,000 bullets, 70 grenades stolen in massive IDF base heist

An IDF base in the Golan Heights was breached on Saturday, and thorough reconnaissance tours of the area began, as the IDF suspects that a large number of weapons and ammunition were stolen.

Drugs and weapons smuggled in from Jordan caught by the IDF.  (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Drugs and weapons smuggled in from Jordan caught by the IDF.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

More than 70,000 bullets and 70 grenades were stolen from a military base in the Golan Heights on Saturday in a major burglary.

The initial probe found that some 70,000 5.56-mm. bullets and about 70 grenades designed to be used for M-203 grenade launchers were stolen in an overnight theft from the Tznobar base near Katzrin.

“The circumstances of the theft are being investigated by the Military Police, and at the end of the investigation, the findings will be handed over to the Military Advocate General for examination,” the military said.

"The circumstances of the theft are being investigated by the Military Police, and at the end of the investigation, the findings will be handed over to the Military Advocate General for examination,”

IDF statement

The head of the Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Uri Gordin established a committee to investigate the theft and examine all the factors and failures that allowed for such an incident to occur, the military said. 

Israeli soldiers stand near the border with Syria in the Golan Heights (credit: REUTERS)Israeli soldiers stand near the border with Syria in the Golan Heights (credit: REUTERS)

The findings of the investigation are expected to be presented to Gordin within about a month. 

All aspects of the investigation are currently under media blackout as troops continue to search for the stolen weaponry.

Last month, about 30,000 bullets were stolen from ammunition warehouses in the IDF’s Sde Teiman base in the South.

The IDF has for years struggled with weapons being stolen from bases across the country, mainly in the Negev. Many of the weapons stolen in recent years were taken by soldiers along with civilian contractors who worked on the bases, who not only had access to bases but knew where the weapons were stored.

Authorities fear that the stolen weapons – which have included machine guns, grenades and explosives – end up in the hands of criminal organizations or terror groups in the West Bank.

Repeated break-ins at IDF bases

During raids in the West Bank, troops have confiscated military-grade M-16s, as well as ammunition and other weaponry.

In March, Islamic State group-inspired terrorists who killed two Border Police officers in Hadera had almost a thousand bullets that were stolen from the IDF, along with army automatic rifles and knives.

Due to the issue of break-ins at bases, the military created a new protocol for securing armories that it said led to a significant decrease in the theft of weapons from bases and soldiers’ homes.

The IDF allocated more than NIS 15 million into additional security measures for on-base armories, including installing biometric scanners, additional closed-circuit cameras and improved locks.

According to a report in Haaretz, approximately 70% of the 400,000 illegal weapons in the country are thought to have been stolen from either the army or the police.

Another report said that between 2013-2020, thousands of weapons have been stolen from the IDF, including at least 482 handguns, 47 M72 LAW anti-tank weapons and two land mines.

But the IDF reported that only 21 firearms had been stolen from bases over the past year, marking a significant decrease from the previous year, when the IDF told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that 80 firearms had been stolen.

The military also noted a decrease in thefts from soldiers’ homes, claiming that in 2017 there were 27 firearms stolen compared to 15 in 2020.

Meanwhile, last year the IDF told the same committee there were 100 incidents of weapons theft at the IDF’s Ground Forces Training Center in the South from 2018-2020. According to the military, about 50 incidents of theft were reported per year at the center.