Thieves who stole ammunition from Israel's National Training Centre within the Tze'elim military base in the Negev Desert a month ago had inside help, local media claimed yesterday.
The thieves apparently used a single truck to get into the base, despite the elaborate security system in place, said Yedioth Ahronoth. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) invested heavily in security at the base over the past few months, installing additional gates, barbed wire fencing, and high-tech surveillance equipment. It is alleged that people who work or serve in the base helped the thieves to get past security.
Despite an extensive police operation, the stolen ammunition has not been recovered. It is believed that at least some have already been sold to criminal gangs.
The IDF has not yet taken action against those responsible for security at Tze'elim. After a similar incident at a military base near the border with Lebanon, however, Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi sacked senior officers in the IDF Northern Command.
The Head of the IDF Operations Directorate, Major General Aharon Haliva, told a Knesset committee that the theft of arms from and near Tze'elim is believed to be the work of a particular local tribe. Knesset members in the meeting also heard that 80 guns were stolen last year from the IDF, 15 of them from the homes of serving officers.
The theft of arms and ammunition is a problem for the IDF in the Jordan Valley where its troops go on exercises. Haliva pointed out that the army has formed a new brigade, including Border Guards, to protect military bases.