Black market weapons puirchase
Black market weapons puirchase iStock

A driver serving in the haredi Netzach Yehuda-Nahal Haredi battalion was arrested for allegedly stealing and selling weapons he stole from the IDF. The soldier was caught after an IDF military police agent posed as a buyer and caught the soldier in the act.

According to the IDF, the soldier stole gas grenades and stun grenades from IDF vehicles that he had access to due to his position as a driver. The soldier also stole magazines and 4,810 bullets. The soldier claimed that stealing these items was easy, as IDF officers in charge of them during practice maneuvers wouldn't report them missing out of fear of getting punished.

The soldier was caught after a long sting operation by IDF military police. A military police agent pretending to be from a crime family called up the soldier, who used code words in an attempt to cover his tracks. According to Ynet, the two used the words "girls" instead of weapons, fragmentation grenades were called "tank tops", and gas grenades were substituted with "the things that make us cry".

The soldier also promised to obtain a Jericho pistol for the agent from criminals that he knew from the Arab-Israeli city of Tayba.

While the soldier admitted to stealing the weapons, he claimed that he had only done so in order to help pay off a NIS 100,000 debt that his family owed to loan sharks. "My mother has serious debts, she owes money to people and has taken large loans. Any day she's going to start crying. I'll do whatever I can to help her," the soldier told the agent.

The agent planted by military police testified that the soldier had told him that he would often steal money and cigarettes from cars that were confiscated from Palestinians, but the agent was unable to provide evidence that the soldier had participated in looting.

The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said that "the military police decided to open an investigation following intelligence information of arms trafficking. The soldier's arrest was extended by the military court until October 24, 2017. The soldier can defend himself in the trial that will be held against him."

The IDF has been upgrading its weapons storehouses in response to a recent spate of thefts from IDF bases. In early October, thieves broke into an IDF base and stole anti-tank explosive devices, thunder bombs, anti-tank mines, explosive bricks, and bullets.

Last May, 33 M-16s were stolen from an IDF armory on the Sdeh Teiman base in southern Israel. After an investigation, a renovations contractor working on the base turned out to be accomplice and police rounded up the criminal ring.

In response, IDF chief Gadi Eizenkot ordered the military to invest NIS 15 million in safeguarding the IDF's weapons storehouses. The measures will include biometric scanners, additional cameras, and improved locks.

Netzach Yehuda, also known as Nahal Haredi, is a battalion in the Kfir Brigade that enables haredi soldiers to serve in the IDF. Woman are forbidden on base, and soldiers receive special food that conforms to a more stringent standard of Jewish dietary laws than is necessary to keep kosher halakhically.