by Ilana Messika/TPS
Israel Police arrested six residents of Be’er Sheva and northern Israel on suspicions of stealing 33 M-16 rifles from the Sde Teiman army base in the Negev and selling them to criminal organizations for tens of thousands of shekels, Israel Police said Monday.
During the month-long investigation, which began in mid-May, police discovered several stolen weapons and additional evidence that two brothers who were employed at the base as independent contractors diverted attention from guards supervising their work in order to make off with the weapons. They hid the goods in the trunk of their car and transferred the guns to their accomplices at a gas station on Highway 6, the Trans-Israel Highway. Payment for the goods would be made several days later at a separate location.
In total, the brothers are suspected of pocketing nearly NIS 1 million.
In addition to the stolen weapons, police also seized thousands of bullets, cartridges, military vests and other equipment and approximately NIS 200,000 worth of drugs, including ecstasy and hashish, and NIS 1 million in cash and vehicles.
Israeli media reports that two of the suspects arrested in the affair are relatives of Nashat Malham, the terrorist responsible for the January 2016 Tel Aviv shooting that caused the death of three people.
Police will ask the court to extend the suspects’ remand after transferring the investigation material to the State Attorney’s Office for the purpose of examining and preparing indictments against anyone involved in the trafficking and use of weapons.