The army said Sunday it is loosening its open-fire rules against people suspected of stealing weapons, taking steps amid the growing number of rifle thefts and the police's crackdown on guns in the Arab community.
Soldiers now will also be able to shoot when there are reasonable suspicions of weapons theft not only at bases and closed military zones but also at training areas and anywhere there is a military presence.
Along international borders, especially those with Egypt and Jordan, open-fire orders are also being expanded; soldiers will be able to fire on smugglers coming from Israeli territory toward the border fence.
Until now, suspected smugglers could not be fired on in border areas open to the public. In an effort to stifle drug and arms smuggling on Israel’s southern border, the attorney general approved the expanded open-fire orders.
“In recent weeks, the army has been working to implement the changes, and adjustments are being made to training so that the soldiers will now be instructed based on the updated guidelines," the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.
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Thousands of weapons and munitions are stolen from the military every year, IDF data shows.
Early last Tuesday, the police arrested 65 people suspected of arms trafficking in the Arab community, in an operation dubbed the biggest in the police's history.
Suspects from all around the West Bank and Israel, mostly from the north, East Jerusalem and the Triangle area in the center, have been arrested in the operation, which began in August.