An Israeli man who battled the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas inside the Gaza Strip is now being charged with posing as an Israeli soldier and stealing weapons from the country’s military.
Roi Yifrach, a 35-year-old from Tel Aviv, took advantage of the chaotic situation in the aftermath of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack to join combat operations and steal large amounts of military gear, including weapons, munitions and sensitive communications equipment, The Associated Press reported, citing an indictment filed on Sunday.
Yifrach went to southern Israel and presented himself alternately as a combat soldier from elite anti-terrorism units, a bomb dispersal expert and a member of the Shin Bet internal security service, the indictment said.
He even appeared in an image alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during one of the Israeli leader’s visits to troops in the field, the AP added, citing Israeli media.
Yifrach was arrested on Dec. 17, while four other people – including a police officer – were taken into custody in relation to the alleged weapon thefts.
However, Eitan Sabag, Yifrach’s lawyer, told Israel’s Channel 12 TV that Yifrach went down to the south to help as a paramedic with a first responder organization and fought bravely to defend Israel for more than two months.
“He joined an elite combat unit inside Gaza and fought Hamas terrorists face-to-face, with IDF approval, with military equipment provided to him by the IDF,” the lawyer was quoted by The Times of Israel as telling Channel 12. “Absurdly, the State of Israel, which failed to protect its citizens, is now going after a citizen, my client, who volunteered for Israel.”
The indictment said Yifrach was in Gaza for several weeks and stole equipment including an assault rifle, 14 stun grenades, a drone, three detonators and other items, The Times of Israel also reported.
Authorities were tipped off and found the equipment in Yifrach’s house, his mother’s house and in his car, according to The Times of Israel.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.