The IDF Has a Small Arms Theft Problem

    An Israeli Defense Force Brigadier General is currently under investigation for having a large number of issue rifles in his personal storage container while transferring bases in his career. None of the rifles (more than 30) were supposed to be there as Generals typically don’t fight with a rifle, they fight with an Army, and as such they were unauthorized. This report on its own could be alarming, but coupled with other reports in recent years, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to small arms and ammunition theft from IDF bases. A number of reports, specifically claiming that as many as seven bases aren’t secure at all to common theft of sensitive items with an estimate of over 450 small arms have been stolen, has lead to the IDF increasing budgets up to $4.2 million to better secure armories around Israel. In 2014 a report by the Times of Israel that expressed almost the same sentiments about issued small arms being stolen from IDF bases in increasing numbers and incidents.

    In August of this year 15,000 5.56x45mm NATO rounds went missing, with civilian base workers being suspected of taking them.

    According to Walla News, thieves are believed to have broken into the armory and loaded crates of ammunition into their vehicles, getting away with more than 15,000 rounds for 5.56mm assault rifles.

    In May of this year 30 Tavors were stolen from armories of the Sde Teman base, while at the very same base, a company commander along with an accomplice were accused of stealing fragmentation grenades (most likely M67s) and LAW rockets in August of 2016. The May theft organizers were later caught, with the M4 carbines in the feature image being the recovered rifles that they took .

    Just several weeks ago, 24 rifle grenades along with thousands of rounds were stolen from what appears to be a base near the Golan Heights in the north of the country.

    On October 2, the army said that a diverse cache of military weaponry was stolen from an armory on a base in northern Israel some time the day before or during the night.

    The stolen equipment included anti-tank mines, ammunition for assault rifles, explosive charges and detonators.

    Soldiers serving on the base discovered signs that someone had broken into the armory, and weaponry was also found to be missing.

    There is of course small arms theft in the U.S. Military, but not to the epidemic extent that we are looking at here among the IDF. In July of 2016 several handguns were stolen from an arms room in Stuttgart. But there is a huge difference between dozens of select fire rifles, and even LAWs getting outright stolen from inside IDF facilities, and a couple of M9s going missing.

    Many of these articles mention the presence of organized crime being involved in these thefts, selling the weapons into the Israeli or MENA black markets, or being used for their own nefarious activities. However, the sheer frequency of these thefts suggests to me that the majority of them had inside contacts, expertise, and interest in the matter that allowed them to be successful.


    Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

    Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at [email protected]