Daily Israel Report

Police, ISA Cuff Arab Gang That Stole Soldiers' Guns

Nine Muslims from northern villages who beat soldiers and took their M-16 guns in January and February have already been arrested.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 3/24/2010, 6:11 PM

Flash 90

Investigators belonging to the Israel Police and the Israel Security Agency (also known as Shin Bet) have exposed a gang of Arabs from the Galilee who carried out attacks on two IDF soldiers, stole their weapons and sold them.

The group operated systematically to locate soldiers at hitchhiking stations and other venues where soldiers concentrate. They succeeded in beating soldiers and stealing their weapons in two attacks – one in Karmiel in January and the second near Kiryat Shemona in February.

In the January 3 attack, three men attacked a soldier with bats in the Galilee town of Karmiel and stole his M-16 assault rifle. On February 25, two assailants jumped from a car and pounced on a 19 year old IDF soldier at the Koach junction near Kiryat Shemona, beat him with a metal bar, took his gun and escaped. He was evacuated to Ziv Hospital in Tzfat (Safed) in moderate condition.

Police said that undercover operations led to the arrest of two brothers and their cousin, all in their 20s, from the Muslim Arab village of Sakhnin in the Galilee. They operated in a planned fashion, tracking soldiers' movements before carrying out their attacks. 

NIS 34,000 per gun
After both attacks, they sold the stolen weapons to an arms dealer from the Amara clan in Kafr Kana and received NIS 34,000 (about $9,000) each time. As the investigation progressed, six more suspects were picked up: four Sakhnin residents, one from Kafr Kana and one from Ablin. The six were involved in planning and timing the attacks and the getaways, as well as sale of the guns.

The suspects have been in custody for a while and have admitted the offenses. The Haifa Prosecution has stated it intends to charge them with membership of an illegal organization, aggravated robbery and weapons trafficking offenses. 

"This activity emphasizes the effort and determination of the Galilee District as regards the trade and use of arms and is part of a larger scale general effort to collect arms and weapons,” Galilee District Police Commander Brig.-Gen. Menachem Chever said.   

Shortly after the present goverment entered office, security officials began taking steps to limit the ability of the Arab populace in Israel to rise up as a "fifth column" in case a war breaks out with Iran and its allies. The IDF began training units to quell any such uprising and officers took care to publicize this fact. The police, for their part, have launched large-scale operations to collect illegal weapons in both the southern and northern districts.