Suspected car thieves break into air force base, setting off manhunt

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

Suspected car thieves have broken into the Israeli Air Force’s Nevatim Air Base in the northern Negev desert after abandoning a car they had allegedly stolen from the nearby town of Dimona, prompting a massive manhunt, police say.

“Police forces, assisted by the Israel Defense Forces, are searching the area to find them,” police say.

Nevatim is the home base of the Israeli Air Force’s fleet of F-35 fight jets, the most significant aircraft in the military, as well as other advanced planes. These strategic assets have reportedly been secured.

It is not immediately clear how many suspects are involved, if it is one person or several people.

According to initial reports, the suspect or suspects drove through an open gate into the base, but punctured the tires on the security spikes on the road. They then abandoned the car and took off on foot deeper inside the base.

Military helicopters have been brought in to assist in the search, and the families of officers who live on the base have been warned to stay inside their homes.

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