Daily Israel Report

IDF Chief of Staff's Antique Gun Mysteriously Reappears

Handgun that was stolen from Lt.-Gen. Ashkenazi's bureau strangely finds its way back to IDF headquarters.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 6/16/2010, 6:26 PM / Last Update: 6/16/2010, 6:34 PM

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An antique gun stolen in July 2009 from IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi has mysteriously reappeared. The gun was found in the same room that it was stolen from, right next to the Chief of Staff's bureau. Ashkenazi's credit card information was also stolen in that embarrassing incident, which reportedly led to a tightening of security in and around the bureau.

Corporal Louis Mascotta, who was a guard at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv where the theft took place, is currently standing trial for his alleged involvement in stealing the gun.

Attorney Idan Pesach, who represents Mascotta, told IDF Radio that the development was a surprising one. “This is a very dramatic development in the case – almost imaginary,” he said. “This is a handgun that was allegedly stolen from the Chief of Staff's bureau, and suddenly it is found when we are in mid-trial, and when the defendant is in custody.”

He added: "The fact that the gun was found there, and apparently returned to the Chief of Staff's bureau when the defendant is in jail and certainly has nothing to do with [its return] confirms our arguments, that the soldier is simply a pawn in the hands of bigger forces, which are apparently the ones that returned the gun.”       

Mascotta was charged in August 2009 of robbery in aggravated circumstances, credit card fraud and weapons trading, among other counts. He admitted stealing the gun but said he had been under threat.

Last month, the Tel Aviv District Court sentenced a relative of Mascotta – a 17 year old youth – to four years in jail after he admitted to aiding Mascotta in the theft. Another person – a man named Muhammad Shalabiya – was convicted of mediating between the two suspects and another person, who bought the weapon from them.