Seventy per cent of all gun attacks in Israel over the past year were carried out using stolen army weapons, according to a report yesterday on Walla news website.
Based on official statistics released by the Israeli military, 464 out of a total of 675 shooting incidents reported this year involved the use of stolen military-grade weapons. The figure represents a 5 per cent increase compared with the statistics in a similar report published a decade ago.
As well as firearms, a record number of explosive devices have been stolen from army bases. The findings also reveal that most of the stolen weapons were initially smuggled out across the country’s borders with neighbouring Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan.
“While the Egyptian and Lebanese borders are harder to smuggle weapons or drugs through, the Jordanian border is basically just barbed wire,” said the report, citing a military source.
Haaretz reported in October that thousands of weapons and munitions are stolen from the Israeli military each year. This “demonstrates how many weapons have fallen into the wrong hands in recent years.”
In January, the Israeli parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee discussed the issue of weapon thefts from the military. Such thefts were described as “the origin of the violation of the unwritten agreement between the citizens of the state and the state.”
According to a Knesset press release, a total of 80 firearms were stolen from military bases last year, although it claimed that this was amid a “constant decrease in theft from the army” since an incident in 2017 at the Sde Teiman base in the south of the country when 33 assault rifles were stolen and sold to criminal organisations in the north.
It is noteworthy that the increase in stolen weapons from the military has corresponded with a rising number of violent attacks among Israeli Arab citizens. More than 100 have been killed since the start of the year in “crime-related incidents”, according to the Jerusalem Post.