Man converts public bomb shelter into marijuana grow house on southern Moshav, police say

Authorities say Border Police K9 unit raided reinforced building used as neighborhood bomb shelter on moshav near Kiryat Gat.

Cannabis [Illustrative] (photo credit: INIMAGE)
Cannabis [Illustrative]
(photo credit: INIMAGE)
Amid the heavy rocket fire on southern Israel the past two months, the IDF Home Front Command has advised residents of communities near the Gaza border to tidy up their bomb shelters and make them more livable for extended periods. On Thursday, police discovered that one moshavnik may have taken that advice too seriously, turning a bomb shelter in Moshav Ahuza into a marijuana grow room and gambling parlor.
Lahish region police said Thursday that a Border Police K9 unit raided the reinforced building, used as a neighborhood bomb shelter, in the moshav near Kiryat Gat after they were tipped off that the building wasn’t being used just to wait out rocket sirens.
They said they found the bomb shelter locked – in violation of Home Front Command instructions – and broke in.
Once inside, police said the drug dogs hit on a cabinet in a small kitchen unit inside the shelter and found a box containing marijuana and hashish.
They then found what they described as a recently built sheetrock wall, and after breaking it down they found a kilogram of marijuana, pesticides, a digital scale, irrigation tubes, and more tools they said were used to run a grow room behind the sheetrock.
A video put out by police showed a room that wouldn’t put any major growers to shame, and could probably house a half-dozen or so full grown plants very comfortably.
They also found what they said was “equipment that showed that this was a working gambling house,” including notepads that showed outstanding debts by gamblers, a case of poker chips and cards.
The statement also mentioned a single bottle of Arak anise liquor on the table, which can be seen in a video of the raid put out by police, on the coffee table next to the beaten up couches and cigarette packs holding “fingers” of hashish – a rather common Israeli bachelor scene.
The Border Police detained a man in his 50s nearby, who they said they suspect of running the bomb shelter turned marijuana grow house and gambling parlor.
Upon his arrest, police said he told the officers “the equipment all belongs to my son.”
The commander of the Border Police team that raided the building, Ch.-Insp. Yaron Dahan, said that “of all times, in days like this, when citizens are running away from the rocket threat that is more pressing than ever, there is a need for bomb shelters. Not only is this use of the shelter completely illegal, but it is also safe to assume that it prevented citizens from being able to seek shelter there during rocket sirens.”
In mid-July, detectives in Ashdod raided a local public bomb shelter that had been turned into a gambling parlor.
Police said they found computers and hard drives and said they were used to run the gambling house. They also found surveillance cameras and a list of “players” and the money they owed.
They arrested a 39-year-old local man whom they suspect of running the operation.