Seven soldiers were recently charged with stealing arms from an Israel Defense Forces base and then selling them, the police announced yesterday after a gag order on the affair was lifted.
Four civilians were also charged with trafficking in the stolen weapons. All of the defendants deny the charges and claim their confessions were extorted through police violence.
The indictments were filed in the Haifa Military Court and the Haifa District Court at the end of a three-month investigation that was sparked by the army's discovery of the missing arms.
The soldiers, from the villages of Rama, Peki'in and Abu Snan, were serving in the so-called Druze battalion (Battalion 299). According to the indictments, they stole large quantities of arms from the Sadnat Goren base near Shomra, including an antitank bomb, dozens of fragmentation and smoke grenades, plastic explosives and ammunition. The arms were then smuggled to the soldiers' hometowns.
According to the prosecution, which has asked that all the defendants be remanded until the end of proceedings against them, most of the arms have not been recovered, and the police fear they have been sold to criminals. The police said there is no indication the arms have been sold to Palestinian terrorists.