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Palestinian man arrested over break-in at Israeli Air Force base after car theft

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Police say they’ve arrested the man who broke into a highly sensitive Israeli Air Force base two weeks ago after allegedly stealing a car, leading security forces on an hours-long manhunt. They identify the suspect as a Palestinian national who had entered Israel illegally.

Alongside the Palestinian man, police arrested two Israeli citizens — a taxi driver from the Bedouin town of Arara and a resident of the desert town of Dimona, where the car theft allegedly took place — who are suspected of helping the man make his escape from the base. Their names have not been released.

According to the police, the three men worked as a team to steal the car from Dimona, with the plan being to drive it to the West Bank and resell it there.

When police began chasing the Palestinian suspect, he drove into the base through an open gate, puncturing the tires on security spikes. He continued on foot into the city-sized base, which houses some of the IAF’s most advanced aircraft, leading to a massive manhunt, which ended some seven hours later.

According to the army, the suspect fled the base less than an hour after entering, climbing over several security fences without being detected. Police say the man was picked up by the taxi driver who ferried him to the West Bank, where he’s been hiding out.

All three have been arrested and charges will be filed against them tomorrow in a Beersheba court for “stealing a car, endangering lives on a roadway, entering an IDF facility and being [in Israel] illegally,” police say.

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