Twenty-one people - including six IDF soldiers - have been arrested for involvement in a plot to smuggle weapons and ammunition, following an investigation by the military police and the Shin Bet security service.
The six soldiers are stationed at a transportation base in the south; two newly demobbed soldiers were also detained.
Many of the detainees are members of the same extended Bedouin family from the Negev.
Two Palestinian residents of Hebron were also arrested, along with a number of Israeli citizens.
According to the investigation revealed Monday, weapons and ammunition were stolen from military bases and replaced by forged equipment that then malfunctioned. The alleged plot took advantage of the soldiers' roles as drivers as well as their access to arms depots.
Some of the stolen arms were allegedly sold to criminal elements in the Negev and others were said to have been transported into Palestinian Authority territory.
The military police began investigating the case in 2019 following reports of malfunctioning weapons. The military police officers were able to trace the incidents to the time the soldiers were on hand to replace parts and transport military equipment out of the base.
An attempt to smuggle 4,000 bullets into the West Bank, which was uncovered by police in December, led investigators to the suspected soldiers and helped advance the investigation.
After three months of undercover investigation, some attempts to smuggle weapons were halted, although not all of these efforts were successful.
The soldiers told investigators that they had received NIS 1.5 for every bullet they stole and NIS 3,000-5,000 for a gun barrel.
One of the detained soldiers is believed to be at the center of the alleged conspiracy.
No connection to any terrorist group has been established, the authorities said.
Four indictments were handed down Monday and more are expected.
The police said: "We are continuing in our efforts to fight the illegal arms trade and are using all tools at our disposal in cooperation with other law enforcement authorities, to remove criminals from the public sphere and ensure the safety of citizens."