Army recovers soldiers' stolen rifles

Three Palestinians arrested, admit to having stolen the guns in Bat Ayin.

idf in bat ayin 298.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
idf in bat ayin 298.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Two M16 rifles, stolen from soldiers late Friday night, were recovered on Sunday after troops from the Shimshon Battalion caught three Palestinians suspected of stealing the weapons from the soldiers' caravan in the Gush Etzion settlement of Bat Ayin. The three were nabbed by soldiers and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) operatives in the village of Beit Umar, south of Bethlehem. Two of the suspects were identified as known Fatah members. The Palestinians confessed to stealing the weapons but said that they had planned to rob one of the settlement homes and did not intend to steal military rifles. Fifteen rifle magazines, as well as a pair of binoculars, were also recovered. "They thought they were going into one of the homes and that they would walk away with money and other valuables," the IDF explained. "But after they unintentionally entered the soldiers' caravan, they decided to steal the weapons." The rifles were stolen late Friday night after robbers surprised two soldiers who were sleeping in a caravan in Bat Ayin. The soldiers, from the Paratroopers Brigade, were part of a manning a security post at the entrance to the settlement. The army said it viewed the incident gravely since the soldiers, who were awakened at gunpoint by the robbers, did not resist. OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh appointed Col. Yaron Boim to head an inquiry committee to investigate the soldiers' conduct. The committee will also look into the security arrangements at the settlement, which does not have a fence and is vulnerable to future break-ins.