Main Culprit in 2017 IDF Base Weapons Theft Gets 9 Years in Prison

YERUSHALAYIM -

A Be’er Sheva court on Tuesday authorized a plea deal that sent Avishai Itach, the main culprit in the 2017 raid of a weapons warehouse at the IDF’s Sdei Teiman base in southern Israel, to a jail term of nine years and seven months. Two other people involved in the theft were sentenced to jail terms of 24 and 26 months respectively.

The incident occurred in May and June of 2017, leading to a major investigation and reprimands of top staff on the base. According to prosecutors, the three posed as repairmen and painters in order to get access to the base. The gang broke into a weapons warehouse and loaded dozens of weapons onto their truck, which was parked near the warehouse. After several days on the job, when their presence was no longer seen by soldiers as out of the ordinary, they began veering off their regular schedule and entered areas of the base where they were not authorized to go. When they realized no one was watching them, they began stealing the weapons.

Prosecutors said that the gang picked and broke locks to the warehouses, especially on side entrances and back doors. They would then replace the locks, painting over them in order to give the impression that they had been undisturbed, other than being painted. About half the weapons were recovered within days of the robbery. Apparently the gang was allowed to leave the base without an inspection of their vehicle.

The thieves walked away with 33 automatic weapons, 13 Lau rockets, 77 smoke grenades, and a Matador portable, disposable, anti-armor weapon system. The culprits were caught when they tried to sell the weapons to an individual who ended up turning state’s evidence, and in the wake of the testimony the three agree to a plea deal.

An investigation showed that the company the army had hired to carry out the work had subcontracted the job to another group. New regulations issued in the wake of the incident require that all vehicles be inspected upon their entry and exit from an IDF base.

The theft triggered a new project to beef up security at all weapons storehouses around the country. For the first time, a comprehensive map of all weapons warehouses is being drawn up. Once they are mapped, the IDF will begin beefing up security around the facilities, using video, sensors and alarms to ensure safety. Access to the warehouses 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, Channel Two reported.