A combat soldier tried to sell arms and ammunition to criminals for 54,000 shekels. Transcripts of police undercover activity which led to indictments against 6 offenders involved in the incident, reveal how the smuggling occurs.
Weapons smuggled from the IDF for cash Illustration Photo (Reuters / Channel 2 News)
“Want a cartridge? Take mine”: transcriptions of secret monitoring conducted by the Israeli military police reveal how soldiers smuggle weapons from IDF bases in order to make money by selling them to criminals. Following an undercover operation by the military police’s Central Unit for Special Investigations and the Tel-Aviv District Central Unit, one of these attempts ended with indictments against six offenders.
Each of the offenders took part in an attempt to sell IDF “Micro-Tavor” automatic weapons to criminal elements. A military police unit under the command of Lt. Col. Sassi Megido, alongside Tel-Aviv District Commander Gadi Eshed and his unit, undertook undercover activity in order to intercept the sale. Three undercover agents recorded and documented a soldier from the Caracal Batallion while trying to sell the weapons to criminals.
“I have cartridges in my battalion like water”
The criminals were caught “red-handed” by the police after agreeing to buy the weapons for 54 thousand shekels. Testimonies by undercover agents and transcripts of the recordings, which reached Channel 2 Online, reveal some of the methods for smuggling weapons from IDF bases:
Upon receiving intelligence about the illegal sales, police officers decided that undercover agents would “abandon” weapons in a military vehicle and track its sales attempt. “I asked him if he practices shooting at home as well, and the soldier responded that he did, and that once he left military practice with a Tavor weapon with a grenade launcher and with ten cast grenades he and his friends had shot in the field”, said one undercover agent in his testimony.
“Cartridges like water”. Illustration photo. Guy Veron, Channel 2 News
In one of the undercover recordings, a soldier describes his illegal merchandise to a potential buyer, who was a military police secret agent:
Soldier: “This is a much newer one, with laser sight, you open the safety here and turn it on and you have an accurate laser”
Agent: “Does it have cartridges?”
Soldier: “No, it didn’t have any. If you want a cartridge take mine”
Agent: “And you’ll come out clean, it’s not a problem for you?”
Soldier: “No, I have plenty, I’m a combat soldier, we have cartridges like water”
Hash, Cocaine and Stolen Grenades
In the rest of the conversation, the soldier explained to the agent how he steals grenades during practice. He claimed that he had sold four grenades for 800 shekels each, and explained how to obtain one:
Soldier: “Last year in the same situation they gave me four to throw”
Agent: “Do you throw them alone or with other people?”
Soldier: “They put us in a single file and tell us to throw, everybody throws and I put mine in my pocket”
Agent: “Who knows who threw and who didn’t”
Soldier: “Think about it, boom, boom, everybody’s excited”
Agent: “And nobody sits and counts how many explosions there were”
Soldier: “Nobody counts”
Tel-Aviv District Commander Gadi Eshed, Archive photo Flash 90 / Channel 2 News
One agent’s testimony also shed light on the combat soldier’s drug use. When the two sat together one evening in the soldier’s military base, the soldier rolled a cigarette combined with “Mr. Nice Guy” – a dangerous drug sold at kiosks. The soldier added in a conversation with the agent that “We’ll only smoke this because they have tests in the army and sometime it doesn’t come out in urine samples”. The soldier testified that he uses hash and cocaine when at home with friends.
The indictment against those involved in the affair details how the soldier transferred five full cartridges to a friend who asked him to obtain bullets and grenades for him. Afterwards he and another friend contacted known criminals Ramy Zeitoun and Naim Al-Isawy and agreed that they would purchase the arms for 54,000 shekels.
Comments from the defendants’ attorneys
The soldier’s attorney requested not to respond. Attorney Uri Keinan, who represents one of the suspects in the incident said: “We will await the trail and say what we have to say in court”.
Attorney Uri Ben-Natan, representing Ramy Zeitoun and Naim Al-Isawy, responded: “My clients argue that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, it is certain that they have no connection with Richard or the undercover agents, and I believe the court will decide that they took no part in the arms deal”.