By YAAKOV KATZ
Israel Air Force servicemen are under increasing attack from Beduin who live along a main road that leads to the Nevatim Base in the Negev, senior officers said Wednesday, describing the wave of violence a "mini-intifada."
The IAF base at Nevatim, the largest base in the country, took several years to build and was opened for operations last year. The project, which included the expansion of Nevatim - part of the IAF's plan to move its operations to the South - as well as the construction of the largest runway in the Middle East, cost an estimated NIS 1.6 billion.
IDF sources said that in the past few months, military cars traveling along Route 31 which connects Beersheba with the Nevatim Base have come under increasing stone-throwing attacks from Beduin who live nearby.
In another recent case, a washing machine was placed in the middle of the road at night, forcing cars to swerve out of the way. In yet another instance, a pilot was pulled out of his car and beaten by Beduin youth.
Police suspect that the Beduin behind the violence are from Rahat and are purposely targeting air force pilots and servicemen.
As a result of the growing violence, Nevatim commander Brig.-Gen. Eden Atias ordered troops assigned to the base to refrain from driving on Route 31 at night and to instead use a bypass road that goes through Dimona.
Earlier this year, Atias decided to beef up security along the perimeter of the base after it was infiltrated on at least four occasions.
In one case, four Palestinians were found in a part of the base that is currently under construction. They were detained for questioning and later released.
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