Palestinian suspects, from the town of Beit Awwa, were indicted Sunday after being caught in the midst of the largest agricultural theft in recent history in Israel.
According to the indictment, the Palestinian thieves entered Israel illegally from October 20-21 with crates and baskets, and plundered vineyards and greenhouses belonging to the Israeli community of Shekef.
The Palestinian suspects damaged and stole some NIS 300,000 ($85,200) worth of produce, including grapes and tomatoes, which they planned to sell within Palestinian-controlled areas.
The heist was uncovered when a motorist driving in the area spotted the large group of Palestinians and reported them to the IDF. The military arrived on the scene shortly after being notified, causing many of the suspects to flee or hide, with several hiding within the greenhouses and vineyards belonging to the Israeli community.
A total of 67 Palestinians were arrested in connection with the heist, including 40 minors.
“The actions of the respondents, who spent hours in Israel in broad daylight, stole agricultural produce worth hundreds of thousands of shekels and caused a lot of damage—with the help of minors and women—are a testament to their insolence, and raises the fear similar acts would be perpetrated,” Israel’s Southern District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. “They were organized, planned their actions and worked systematically.”