IDF to Use Biometrics, Big Data, to Protect Weapons

IDF artillery on the Golan Heights. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

Fed up with a seemingly endless series of arms thefts from bases, the IDF is planning to spend NIS 15 million to beef up security at all weapons storehouses around the country. The decision comes in the wake of a bold robbery by a band of Bedouin thieves at a base in southern Israel, who got away with advanced technical equipment and numerous weapons.

The first step in providing greater protection for weapons stocks is to develop a map where all weapons are stored – something that has not been done yet, and that the IDF has commissioned as its first task in the program, Channel Two reported. Once the storehouses are mapped, the IDF will begin beefing up security around the facilities, using video, sensors, and alarms to ensure safety. Access to the storehouses will be granted only to authorized personnel, with biometrics likely to be used to identify and authenticate those who are allowed to have access to the facilities.

Other advanced technologies, including big data and computer analysis, will be used to discover weak points where thefts are more likely to occur.

The Channel Two report revealed the full extent of the theft at the Sdeh Teiman base – with thieves walking away with 33 automatic weapons, 13 Lau rockets, 77 smoke grenades and a Matador portable, disposable antiarmor weapon system.

Police, who are not responsible for security at army bases, slammed the IDF, saying that in the best case scenario, the weapons would be used by organized crime gangs to fight against each other, but that some of the weapons could end up in the hands of terrorists.

The thefts have continued despite new orders that allow soldiers to open fire on unauthorized individuals who try to enter IDF bases. Under the new rules, soldiers who observe unauthorized personnel fleeing now have the right to open fire on the offending party, and will not be held legally liable if they hit them. Until that rule change was instituted last week, soldiers could not shoot thieves, although they could pursue them and subdue them if they caught them.

The rules may look impressive on paper, said Amichai Yogev of the Regavim organization, which seeks to limit illegal building activity of Bedouins and Arabs throughout Israel, but are unlikely to stem the thefts. The thieves “impose their fear on everyone, including soldiers, who are prevented from acting against them,” he said, adding that even if they now have permission to open fire, few soldiers are likely to take a chance and be a “test case,” contending with IDF and civil lawyers who may prosecute them anyway. Soldiers are allowed to shoot at individuals who may have committed a “dangerous act,” such as stealing weapons. However, the new rules may not obviate those already on the books – and who is to say if a situation is “dangerous” enough to warrant action? Therefore, said Yogev, despite the rule change, “unfortunately we will not see any changes in the field, and these thefts are likely to continue.”

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