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Israelis Return Stolen Equipment

November 14, 2002

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JERUSALEM (AP) _ Two Katyusha rockets, 500 grenades, and 130 firearms were among $1 million worth of stolen army equipment returned during a monthlong amnesty period, Israeli army officials said Thursday.

Other equipment included rocket propelled grenades, shoulder-held anti-tank missiles, C-4 explosives, anti-tank grenades, heavy-caliber machine guns, tear gas canisters and over 200,000 rounds of ammunition, the army said.

Also turned in were weapons captured during wartime, such as pistols from the 1973 Mideast War and Katyusha rockets from Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982, Brig. Gen. Eran Ofir, head of the army’s logistics brigade, told Israel Radio.

According to the Maariv daily, one Israeli civilian returned three separate stashes of equipment, including firearms, ammunition, grenades, mortar shells and two Strella anti-aircraft missiles, worth more than $150,000.

``It’s simply amazing,″ Col. Yossi Belin told Israel Television’s Channel 2. ``Explosives, a lot of grenades _ people simply stored them at home, and didn’t consider the risks. We found places that were like bunkers ... where it took us two days to clean them out.″

Also returned were military flak jackets, helmets, boots, 5,000 army uniforms and army-issued underwear.

The amnesty, which began in October, is to end Nov. 15. During this period, Israelis are allowed to return stolen equipment without risk of punishment.

Most Israelis undergo compulsory army service at the age of 18, men for three years and women for two. Many men and some women continue doing reserve duty for about one month a year until they are in their 40s. Although storing army equipment at home is illegal, it is not uncommon.

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