Israeli police on Thursday discovered that a shelter meant to protect civilians from Palestinian rocket fire had instead been transformed into a makeshift casino, complete with a mini cannabis plantation.
For more than a month, people in southern Israel exposed to terrorist rocket fire in the latest Gaza conflict have spent many hours or all night in concrete shelters that have their own water and electricity supplies.
Such shelters are part and parcel of daily life for many people in southern Israel, but they are not exactly luxurious, being often dirty since they are opened only when necessity dictates.
But police in Kiryat Gat, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) northeast of the Palestinian enclave, said that they have found one shelter has been used for more nefarious purposes.
They discovered gaming boards and chips, bottles of booze and a kilo of locally grown marijuana, according to a video tour of the police search seen by AFP.
“We are going through a difficult time, when millions of people are forced to live and sleep in these shelters,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.
“Imagine if there’s an alert and you find your local shelter has been turned into a casino and clandestine drugs lab.”
Police have arrested a farmer in his fifties on whose land the missile shelter was built.
He told investigators that all the equipment found there belongs to his son, Samri said, without elaborating on what the police planned for the latter.
Although Israel has licensed casinos focusing on the Red Sea resort of Eilat, the underground variety is illegal, as is the cultivation and consumption of marijuana.