ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 143

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IDF reservist accused of stealing Hamas weapons, stashing them at school where he works

Police say weapons were functional and ready for use; suspect claims he took them from Gaza as souvenirs

Weapons and Hamas flags captured in an Israeli boarding school, allegedly taken by a teacher who returned from reserve duty in Gaza, February 8, 2024. (Israel Police)
Weapons and Hamas flags captured in an Israeli boarding school, allegedly taken by a teacher who returned from reserve duty in Gaza, February 8, 2024. (Israel Police)

An IDF reservist soldier was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of stealing Hamas weapons captured in Gaza and hiding them at an Israeli boarding school where he works.

The weapons included an AK-47 assault rifle, knives and ammunition. The weapons, which police said were operational, were found hidden in a Hadera boarding school where the 33-year-old suspect works as a counselor.

The suspect confessed to taking the weapons, but asserted he did not believe the rifle was functional and had taken the weapons as souvenirs from his time in Gaza.

The suspect’s remand was extended Friday by six days.

Hadera police chief Amit Pollack told Channel 12 that some of the weapons were the sort used by criminals and that their discovery had prevented “the possibility of the weapons being sold or ending up in the hands of the boarding school kids.”

The suspect’s lawyer, Tomer Neve, told the network: “These are defective weapons that were taken from a [Hamas terrorist] who was responsible for the deaths of multiple Israelis and were taken from him mid-fighting as a souvenir only.”

Troops of the 252nd Reserve Division operate in the Gaza Strip, in a handout photo published on November 8, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Since the beginning of the war in Gaza on October 7 — which broke out after Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping 253 — there have been a number of cases of people stealing weapons from bases and battlefields.

At the end of January, a weekslong investigation culminated in the arrest of another reservist soldier who was accused of stealing heavy weaponry from IDF bases and planning to sell them to criminals.

Following an undercover operation, police were able to thwart a massive sale of the weapons, which were found in the homes of multiple suspects together with large amounts of cash.

In December, Tel Aviv resident Roi Ifrach, 35, was indicted for impersonating a soldier and a police officer and stealing weapons and ammunition throughout the war.

Ifrach was accused of traveling around IDF bases of operations in the south and inside Gaza for a month and a half, claiming to hold various reserves or police positions. During this time, he allegedly stole large amounts of weapons, ammunition and police equipment, which were found in his and his mother’s homes, as well as in his car.

According to Ynet, Ifrach even posed for photographs with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant while they visited locations where he was impersonating a soldier.

IDF Spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a press conference that the case was under police and Shin Bet investigation.

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