The Shin Bet on Wednesday arrested two Israeli citizens for the theft of tens of thousands of bullets, less than 24 hours after the ammunition was stolen from the IDF's Tze'elim base in southern Israel on Tuesday.
According to a military source cited by Walla, the suspects were able to enter the base and went to a bunker that housed ammunition before stealing tens of thousands of 5.56 mm rifle bullets.
The exact number of bullets stolen is currently unknown, but it is estimated to be around 26,000 in total, Shin Bet said.
An investigation, spearheaded by the IDF, Israel Police, and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) was launched on Tuesday leading to the arrest of the two Israelis.
Notably, the bullets were stolen even with increased security measures around the base to prevent exactly this from happening.
"Recently, the number of break-ins went down," a military source told Walla, noting that the IDF had made a number of measures to increase their defenses. "And yet, they still broke in and stole from us."
Prior bullet heists from IDF bases
This is not the first time a large number of bullets were stolen from an IDF base.
In November 2022, over 70,000 rifle bullets and 70 grenades were stolen from an IDF base in the Golan Heights.
A month before that, 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.
In this instance, the military source told Walla that the perpetrators were likely a gang of arms traffickers that routinely monitors IDF bases, looking for opportunities to infiltrate them to steal weapons and ammunition – even if it means going through live fire training exercises.
"The IDF has become a permanent theft center for them," the source told Walla. "The bullets get sold throughout the country and some wind up in the West Bank."
Former Tze'elim base commander Maj.-Gen. Guy Tzur told Army Radio that this incident is "the epitome of a lack of governance."
He explained that "It's something the state hasn't dealt with for years. Almost no one is ever caught, and those who are caught are hardly ever punished in the end."
Anna Ahronheim, Amir Bohbot/Walla!, and Yanir Yagna/Walla! contributed to this report.