Man allegedly impersonated soldier, entered Gaza, stole weapons, posed with Netanyahu

Police say 35-year-old Tel Aviv resident stole guns, ammunition and equipment while masquerading as a cop, an officer in counterterror unit and a Shin Bet operative since Oct. 7

IDF troops seen operating in the Gaza Strip in this handout photo released December 23, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF troops seen operating in the Gaza Strip in this handout photo released December 23, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

A Tel Aviv resident was charged Sunday with stealing military and police weapons, apparently taking advantage of the chaos after Hamas’s deadly October 7 attack on Israeli communities along the Gaza border, with the intent to sell them on the black market.

Hebrew media outlets reported that the suspect, Roi Yifrach, was even photographed with both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant at assembly areas in the south between October 7 and his arrest on December 17, while apparently using fake identities to pose as a combat soldier.

According to the indictment served in, the Tel Aviv District Court, Yifrach, 35, never served in the Israeli military but nonetheless managed to make his way into the war zones. He was accused of stealing arms and equipment while fraudulently posing as a policeman, an officer in the elite Yamam counterterrorism unit, and a Shin Bet operative, in the weeks after October 7.

He was charged with various weapons offenses, along with theft under aggravated circumstances.

The charge sheet noted the heightened gravity of the charges given that the weapons and ammunition were stolen during Israel’s ongoing war with Hamas.

Yifrach’s lawyer Eitan Segev asserted that he had volunteered to join the war effort after killing Hamas gunmen on October 7 with his own licensed weapon.

Segev was quoted by Channel 12 news as saying Yifrach had arrived independently to Kibbutz Kfar Aza on October 7, when some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 240 hostages in border communities amid horrific acts of brutality.

“After that he joined an elite combat unit inside Gaza and fought Hamas terrorists face-to-face, with IDF approval, with military equipment provided to him by the IDF,” Segev was quoted by Channel 12 news as saying. “Absurdly, the State of Israel, which failed to protect its citizens, is now going after a citizen, my client, who volunteered for Israel.”

Weapons and military equipment seized by police, allegedly stolen by a Tel Aviv man posing as an IDF combat solider, December 31, 2023 (Israel Police)

According to the indictment, Yifrach was in Gaza for a number of weeks, during which time he stole equipment including an IDF assault rifle, two smoke grenades, 14 stun grenades, a police-issued pistol, dozens of rounds of ammunition and three detonators, a drone, helmets, communications equipment and more.

Police searched his house after being tipped off, and found stolen equipment in his house, in his mother’s house, and in his car.

Four other suspects were detained for questioning in the raid, including a police officer. The four were released to house arrest after being investigated and the police officer was suspended from duty.

Theft of guns has long been a problem for the military. According to data released by the Knesset in 2020, there are some 400,000 illegal weapons circulating in Israel, the vast majority believed to have been stolen from the army and police force.

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