Army budgets millions of shekels to curb thefts from Negev base
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Army budgets millions of shekels to curb thefts from Negev base

Air patrols, undercover units and extra fencing among plans to tackle gangs of thieves operating in area; security officials fear weapons could end up with terrorists

Illustrative. IDF soldiers train next to a tank at the Tzeelim army base in southern Israel on August 19, 2015. (Israel Defense Forces/Flickr)
Illustrative. IDF soldiers train next to a tank at the Tzeelim army base in southern Israel on August 19, 2015. (Israel Defense Forces/Flickr)

The army has budgeted millions of shekels to boost security at one of its military bases in the southern Negev desert following a wave of thefts of weapons and vehicles at the site that security officials fear could end up in the hands of terrorists.

The Tzeelim army base has seen some 50 thefts during 2017 alone, according to media reports.

Security services including the police have become increasingly concerned about the theft of weapons, fearing they could end up not only in the hands of criminals, but also of terrorists, the Maariv newspaper reported Monday.

An undercover unit of the border police has begun to operate in and around firing ranges close to Tzeelim, east of Beer Sheba, carrying out ambushes on suspected thieves nearly every night, the paper said.

In the coming weeks, additional border police officers are expected to join the unit.

IDF Chief Gadi Eizenkot, his deputy Aviv Kochavi and other senior officers are set in the coming days to to discuss how to improve security at Tzeelim.

Strategies under discussion include spot patrols from the skies to gather intelligence on gangs of thieves operating in the area, as well as installation of new fencing, gates and cameras at parking lots.

Last week, senior figures at the base also updated Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich when he visited the facility.

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