Lapid hails arrest of suspects

Eight Bedouin men arrested over theft of 30,000 bullets from IDF base in south

Police, Shin Bet say four members of al-Sana clan broke into Sde Teiman base in October; another two sold the stolen ammunition and two Tel Sheva men detained for purchasing it

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

A detained Beoduin man points to an IDF storage bunker at the Sde Teiman base in southern Israel, after he and several others allegedly broke in and stole 30,000 bullets, during a crime reenactment, in an image published by police on December 20, 2022. (Israel Police)
A detained Beoduin man points to an IDF storage bunker at the Sde Teiman base in southern Israel, after he and several others allegedly broke in and stole 30,000 bullets, during a crime reenactment, in an image published by police on December 20, 2022. (Israel Police)

Eight Bedouin Israeli men have been arrested for alleged involvement in the theft of thousands of rounds of ammunition from an army base in southern Israel in October, the Shin Bet security agency and police said Tuesday.

Some 30,000 bullets — mostly 5.56-millimeter rounds — were stolen from the Sde Teiman base on October 21.

In a joint statement, the Shin Bet and police said several of the suspects — Harun al-Sana, Mamun al-Sana, Muhammad al-Sana, and Hamed al-Sana — cut through the base’s fence and stole dozens of ammunition boxes from a storage bunker.

Another two suspects from the same Bedouin clan in the village of Tarabin al-Sana — Abdul Karim al-Sana and Tarek al-Sana — were arrested for selling the ammunition.

And the last two suspects — Osmat Abu Ghalioun and Odai Abu Sarikhan — residents of Tel Sheva, were arrested for allegedly purchasing the stolen ammunition.

Some of the bullets were recovered with the arrests, police said.

Suspects in the theft of 30,000 bullets from an IDF base in southern Israel in October 2022: (Clockwise from top left) Harun al-Sana, Mamun al-Sana, Hamed al-Sana, Abdul Karim al-Sana, Tarek al-Sana, Muhammad al-Sana, Osmat Abu Ghalioun and Odai Abu Sarikhan. (Shin Bet)

Police prosecutors are expected to file indictments against the eight men within days. They are accused of various weapons offenses, alongside the criminal act of breaking into an army base.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Tuesday hailed the arrest of the suspects during a visit to the Shin Bet’s headquarters.

Lapid noted “that the capture of the squad would foil further break-ins into bases in the future, and would prevent IDF weaponry from falling into the hands of terrorist and criminal organizations,” his office said in a statement.

For years, the military has struggled with thefts from its bases, both by soldiers — who have stolen everything from bullets and missiles to army jeeps — and by criminal gangs.

Ammunition recovered after the theft of 30,000 bullets from an IDF base in southern Israel in October 2022. (Israel Police)

Security officials fear that stolen ammunition could be used in terror attacks. In March, almost a thousand stolen IDF bullets were found on Islamic State-inspired gunmen who killed two Border Police officers in a terror attack in Hadera.

Thousands of stolen army bullets have also been seized at checkpoints from people heading from Israel into the West Bank in recent months.

Most Popular
read more: