Shin Bet arrest members of Bedouin-Israeli group for theft from IDF bases

The arrest was unusual, as generally speaking, the Shin Bet only focuses on terrorism-related incidents.

 The Shin Bet made an unusual bust of eight Israeli citizens from Bedouin areas in the South for allegedly stealing tens of thousands of bullets, December 20, 2022. (photo credit: SHIN BET)
The Shin Bet made an unusual bust of eight Israeli citizens from Bedouin areas in the South for allegedly stealing tens of thousands of bullets, December 20, 2022.
(photo credit: SHIN BET)

The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), along with Israel Police forces, has made an unusual bust of eight Israeli citizens from Bedouin areas in the South for allegedly stealing tens of thousands of bullets and other weaponry-related items from IDF bases. 

Generally speaking, the Shin Bet only focuses on terrorism-related incidents, working to thwart terrorists from the West Bank and Gaza, as well as from Lebanon and Iran.

Usually, it is the police who deal with domestic crimes, such as theft.

However, recent Israeli governments have been empowering the Shin Bet to intervene against large Israeli-Arab or crime syndicates, especially those whose activities might have security implications.

Security implications could refer either to operations proven to have links to Hamas, with many such connections exposed during the May 2021 Gaza War, or the theft of large volumes of dangerous weaponry from IDF bases.

The Shin Bet made an unusual bust of eight Israeli citizens from Bedouin areas in the South for allegedly stealing tens of thousands of bullets, December 20, 2022. (credit: SHIN BET)The Shin Bet made an unusual bust of eight Israeli citizens from Bedouin areas in the South for allegedly stealing tens of thousands of bullets, December 20, 2022. (credit: SHIN BET)

Although the Shin Bet statement did not indicate how they were involved, the clandestine agency is known to possess powerful surveillance tools and wider discretion in how hard it interrogates suspects in order to preserve Israeli national security.

A joint Shin Bet and police statement named the suspects as: Haron a-Sana, Maamon a-Sana, Mahmoud a-Sana, Hamad a-Sana, Abdul Karim a-Sana, Tarik a-Sana, Ismat Abu Elian and Udai Abu Sarihaan from the Bedouin area villages of Taravin a-Sana and Tel Sheva. Abu Elian and Sarihaan have confessed to their crimes according to the statement. 

The suspects were involved in a mix of multiple break-ins to different army bases, but especially the Sed Teiman base in the South, as well as buying and selling the weapons to perpetrate a variety of other crimes.

They allegedly cut through the IDF base's security fences and also caused damage to the bunker where the weapons were being stored.

A statement said that a policy declaration has already been filed with the courts and that a full-fledged criminal indictment is imminent.

Both agencies said that stealing weapons from the IDF, potentially with intent to provide them to terror groups, was an "especially serious crime," and needed to be given special attention since it involved Israeli citizens.

The announcement came in the midst of a variety of reports about recent thefts from IDF bases despite increased funds for in recent years better security on those bases and a loosening of the open fire rules for IDF base guards to prevent such thefts.