A man suspected of stealing a car broke into an Israeli Air Force base in the south on Monday, then fled on foot and disappeared inside the base.
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The police and the military searched for him for hours in the Nevatim Base, southeast of Be’er Sheva, before announcing Tuesday early morning that the suspect had apparently left the premises.
The incident began with a reported vehicle theft in Dimona, a town south of the base. Personnel from the Ituran security firm chased the vehicle, which ended up at the security entrance gate to the Nevatim Base.
The car sped into the base and came to a stop after driving over spikes placed at the entrance. The driver fled on foot, despite efforts by guards at the gate to apprehend him, the military said.
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Nevatim extends over a wide area. Military forces, including combat trackers, gave chase, backed by a helicopter. Initially, there was concern that the suspect might sabotage aircraft or other sensitive equipment at the base.
The IDF later reported that guards had been deployed to protect the aircraft, which include F-35 jets and advanced cargo planes, and that the personnel and security facilities at the base had not been at risk.
It was later said that the suspect had fled the Nevatim Base by scaling two barbed-wire fences and an additional 16-feet fence.
IDF officials view the infiltration as a highly serious incident, and will continue to investigate the incident.