Stolen IDF Weapons Turning Up in Mafia Wars, Army Says

In-house theft of combat materiel increased last year.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The Israel Defense Forces is seeing an increase in the level of in-house crime, mainly attempts to steal combat materiel for the purpose of selling it, data released by the Military Police on Monday showed.

The chief of the Military Police, Brig. Gen. Golan Maimon said that “In some of the criminal incidents perpetrated by crime organizations, IDF war materiel was used.”

In 2013 there were 62 incidents of theft of weapons in the IDF - 19 thefts from the homes of soldiers and 26 incidents where weapons were stolen from army units. This is a decline compared to the previous year, when 89 weapons were stolen, but an increase from 2011, when 55 weapons were stolen. In the past three years there has also been an increase in the number of thefts of weapons from armories - precisely the place where the weapons are supposed to be most closely guarded.

The Military Police Corps says this is proof of an increase in the level of crime and the demand for weapons. “Once a weapon used to cost 8,000 shekels ($2,300) in the open market, and today it can cost up to 40,000 shekels,” said a senior Military Police officer. He says that construction of the fence on the border between Israel and Egypt led to a reduction in the transfer of combat materiel in the area, which accounts for the rise in motivation to steal weapons from the IDF.

Accoridng to MP Corps data, this year there were 11 incidents of sophisticated break-ins into bases or armories to steal weapons. “In the past there were only one or two such incidents a year, for example entering an area where 12 soldiers were sleeping and stealing two MAG [heavy machine guns],” explained the officer, adding that there has been an increase in the sophistication and daring of those carrying out the thefts.

An indictment filed recently in the Jaffa Military Court tells of a soldier, who according to the indictment dealt in drugs and combat materiel. At the end of November the soldier informed an undercover agent from the MP investigation unit that he could procure drugs and stun grenades for them. According to the indictment, the soldier purchased M-16 rifles from the agent in exchange for 41 grams of cocaine. The weapon itself was deactivated ahead of time and had a GPS device hidden inside. The soldier transferred the weapon to a third party with the understanding that it was to be used in a battle between crime organizations. The military defender’s office, which represents the soldier, said, “We can already state clearly that the accused has no connection to any crime organization. We will make our case before the Military Court and the Military Advocate General’s office.”

The Military Police Corps presented its figures for 2013 at a press conference yesterday. This year 106 investigations were carried out for suspicion of weapons offenses (compared to 130 during the previous year); 137 for suspicion of sex offenses (compared to 135 in 2012); 202 for offenses committed on duty, of which a substantial percentage concerned IDF activities in the West Bank (compared to 122 last year); and 25 for suspicion of information-security or computer-related crimes (compared to 18 last year).

The corps reported plans to establish a new military prison and court headquarters in Beit Lid to replace the two prisons existing today - Military Prison No. 4 in Tzrifin and Military Prison No. 6 near Atlit. According to the plan, by the end of 2017 there will be a prison complex that will include the military courts and military prosecution departments, and will be called Neveh Tzedek. There will be about 1,200 prison cells, 200 for women and the rest for men. An officer in the MP Corps said that some of the cells will be in portable structures and some in tents. Today, too, some of the inmates in the military prisons, mainly those sentenced for relatively minor offenses, live in tents rather than permanent buildings.

Stolen weapons returned to IDF; military lost NIS 50 million worth of equipment in 2012.Credit: Nir Kafri

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