Daily Israel Report

F-16 Engines Stolen from IAF Base

IAF belatedly finds that several engines have been stolen. Arab metal thieves with help from the inside are suspected.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 12/6/2012, 9:00 AM

IAF F-16
IAF F-16
IAF Website

The Air Force has discovered in recent days that several F-16 fighter jet engines were stolen from one of its bases, news website Walla reported Thursday.

Senior IAF sources said that the thieves who stole the engines had to have been assisted by someone within the base. This determination is based, among other things, on the fact that there was no damage to the base's perimeter fence. This leads investigators to believe that the thieves went in and out through the gates. They must have done this with a large vehicle, since the engines weigh over 1.5 tons and are more than 15 feet long.

No suspects have been arrested yet in the theft, which is the first of its kind in the IAF's history and marks a low point in its ability to secure its own bases. The most likely possibility is that the engines were stolen by Arab metal thieves, weapons dealers or terror-related agents.  

Military sources have expressed their belief that assistance from Bedouin helped Hamas achieve a relatively high degree of accuracy in its attacks on IDF bases during Operation Pillar of Defense. Two soldiers were killed in such strikes.

In July, Bedouin metal thieves infiltrated the IDF base at Tze'elim in the Negev and stole crates of ammunition, which the IDF insists were empty. The Bedouins entered the base on SUVs. 

According to Channel 2, the IDF gave chase but the Bedouins toyed with them, stopping the SUVs once in a while to let the IDF vehicles chasing them get close and then speeding off again. The chase was called off once the Bedouins were outside of the base's perimeter, even though the thieves were in possession of live ammunition.

In May, two bullet-proof military jeeps were stolen from the Ketziot base in southern Israel. The jeeps both carried military equipment. 

In January, the theft of 1,500 tank shells from an IDF munitions base in the South was reported. Several people have been charged, and the Military Police launched an investigation against commanders and soldiers suspected of involvement in the huge theft.

The video below is a Channel 2 report from earlier this year, documenting how Bedouin metal thieves on ATVs enter IDF training zones during live fire tank exercises and collect spent shells and other items they find desirable. The army's orders forbid soldiers from firing at the thieves, and so the thieves operate in the open.

The military is hamstrung in dealing with thieves because of neo-Marxist leftist infiltration into the IDF Attorney's Office, which strictly prosecutes soldiers who fire at Arabs.