Police have opened an investigation after a video surfaced online of two men cruising around the southern city of Eilat while pointing a loaded assault rifle toward the windscreen of their car.
In the video, which has circulated widely among Israelis on social media in recent days, the two unidentified suspects can be seen driving in the city’s hotel district and passing back and forth what appears to be an M-16 rifle belonging to the IDF. Loud Arabic music plays in the background.
In the beginning, the driver can be seen loading a magazine into the rifle before raising it and aiming it at other cars through the windscreen. He then passes it over to his passenger, who repeatedly pulls the charging handle, loading the weapon and ejecting several rounds into the car.
An investigation was launched after the clip was uploaded to the internet and the two men, who no longer had the weapon, were subsequently detained near Dimona, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) to the north, according to Hebrew media reports.
סרטון הנשק באילת
ארצי חלפון ???? ערוץ פלילי
חייל המשרת בגזרת אילת נתן לאחיו וחבר איתם נסע ברכב, לעשות סרטון "סיבוב עם נשק באילת" שרץ ברשת. תוך מספר שעות הצליחו שוטרי אילת להגיע לזהות הרכב אשר אותר עפ"י פרטים באזור דימונה. השניים שתועדו בסרטון נעצרו, והחייל נעצר ע"י מצ"ח. pic.twitter.com/wPk11kirCc
— ארצי חלפון ערוץ פלילי גם בטלגרם (@crimechannel1) August 2, 2020
The rifle was traced back to an IDF serviceman serving in the Eilat area, with the police passing on the case to their military counterparts.
The theft of military equipment is a known trend in the IDF, with individual soldiers walking off with everything from bullets to jeeps, and criminal organizations breaking into bases and training facilities in order to steal guns, grenades and missiles.
In 2017, after more than 30 assault rifles were stolen from a military base, then-IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot ordered the military to invest NIS 15 million ($4.2 million) into additional security measures for on-base armories.
In 2006 the IDF prohibited its soldiers from bringing home their service weapons. Eisenkot reversed that decision in 2016, not only allowing combat soldiers to bring home their weapons while on leave, but requiring them to do so.
This May, over 60 people were arrested in a series of overnight raids across the country after a year-long operation investigating the trade of drugs and illegal weapons in both the Arab and Jewish communities. Police said that over the course of the operation, the agent purchased five M-16 assault rifles, three Kalashnikov assault rifles, four handguns and three explosive devices, as well as more than ten kilograms of cocaine and over a kilogram of heroin.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.