Citing failure to secure weapons, IDF confiscates guns from Israeli border towns

While securing weapons was found to be too lax in certain settlements, the serious thefts actually occur on army bases.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The IDF began collecting weapons in recent weeks from border area settlements, due to fear of their theft and transfer to terrorist or criminal elements, Walla news reported Sunday.

“In January 2020, it was decided to regulate the security of weapons in settlements near the various borders,” said the IDF spokesman, “and an order was issued that tightens the security guidelines.

“This arrangement stemmed from a commitment to increase security over the IDF’s weapons, and in light of an ongoing assessment of the situation, which balances the criminal threat with the security threat.”

The army said it had examined the conditions under which the weapons were kept, and found them wanting.

“In some cases,” army sources told the news site, “there were no safes, and the weapons were not under lock and key. Nor was there adequate security to deal with the wave of thefts.”

“It is important to emphasize that this is not only a matter of fear of thefts of rifles and ammunition, but also of military equipment that can quickly reach criminals and even terrorist organizations,” the sources said.

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By their very nature, settlement and regional council security offices have a limited number of arms available, as the vast majority of the security burden in these areas falls on the IDF. The “wave of thefts” mentioned by the sources have occurred specifically on army bases, and some of the most recent burglaries have been extremely serious.

Last month, there was a massive theft from the army training center in Tze’elim. Bypassing the base’s security system, unknown thieves broke into the ammunition bunker and loaded boxes containing some 90,000 rifle bullets into several vehicles and escaped. The army and police have not ruled out the possibility that the thieves had help from inside the base.

In addition, last September 38 M-16 rifles were stolen from the Territorial Brigade 769 base near the Lebanese border. Calling it “a very serious incident,” Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi approved disciplining more than a dozen soldiers and officers for their lack of responsibility and professionalism in the affair.

The armory in this case did not have any theft-prevention system in place, such as cameras, alarms or motion sensors, although the IDF as a whole has spent some NIS50 million in the last year improving weapons security.

Beginning in the western Negev, the weapons collection from settlements around the country will continue for several months, in “full coordination” with local civilian security heads. The army promised that the reduction of available weapons would not negatively affect the safety of the communities.

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“To the extent that a decision is made to reduce the number of weapons in a particular locality, there are officials in the locality who remain with their weapons, and funds are allocated to assist in purchasing security solutions for the locality. The residents receive a response that is suited to them in the specific sector in which they live,” it said.