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Second security breach in a week

Thieves break into IDF base after using drones to gather intel, cause blackout

Report says army, police knew in advance of planned robbery at Beersheba site but failed to prevent it; military equipment, but not weapons, snatched; no suspects arrested

An IDF soldier seen silhouetted as he is walking through the fields near his army base, in Beersheba, southern Israel, March 31, 2014 (Mendy Hechtman/FLASH90)
An IDF soldier seen silhouetted as he is walking through the fields near his army base, in Beersheba, southern Israel, March 31, 2014 (Mendy Hechtman/FLASH90)

For the second time in a week, suspected thieves were responsible for a major security breach at an Israel Defense Forces base in the south of the country, this time using drones to gather intelligence and cause a blackout.

According to Channel 12 news, the gang used drones in the assault on the base, one of which hit the power grid and caused a blackout, under cover of which the thieves made their entry.

The suspects were also said to have used the drones to gather intelligence ahead of the incident at the Natan base in the city of Beersheba.

The report said that police and the IDF were aware of the planned burglary at the base, but did not take action to prevent it.

Illustrative — A drone flies in Berlin, Germany, Nov. 23, 2020 (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

According to the report, the thieves were unsuccessful in their attempt to steal weapons but they did take other military equipment.

No further details were given on the nature of the stolen equipment and no suspects have been detained in connection with the incident.

“Following exceptional events in the area, the base’s level of readiness was raised immediately, including strengthening security and defense targets,” the IDF said in a statement to the network. “We emphasize that no weapons were stolen from the unit and there was no damage to the generator, although a breach was identified in the fence, which was blocked immediately.

“In addition, following the identification of civilian aircraft in the base area, technological means were used in coordination with the Israel Police,” the IDF said, without giving further details.

The embarrassing breach was presumed to be the latest in a series of criminal acts by local thieves in what are meant to be heavily guarded military facilities in southern Israel.

On Monday a suspected car thief broke into the Israeli Air Force’s Nevatim Air Base in the northern Negev Desert after abandoning a car he had allegedly stolen from the nearby town of Dimona, prompting a massive manhunt, police and the military said.

A stolen car that was abandoned inside the Israeli Air Force’s Nevatim Base after alleged thieves drove into the facility, puncturing the tires on security spikes at the gate, February 8, 2021. (Israel Police)

According to the military, the suspect drove through an open gate into the base, but his tires were punctured on the security spikes on the road. He then abandoned the car and took off on foot, heading deeper inside the base.

The incident represented a severe, resounding breach of security for what is considered the air force’s most important base, which should be more difficult to break into than by simply driving through a gate and running inside.

Recent weeks have seen thieves steal military tents and other equipment from the IDF’s Tzeelim training base in broad daylight, as well as some 20,000 bullets from the Sdeh Teiman military base north of Beersheba.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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