Israel military reservists
Israeli army personnel have reportedly walked away from service with some form of memorabilia and the army now wants them back. Reuters

The Israeli Army is urging former soldiers to return hundreds of weapons and tens of thousands of ammunition. Apparently, soldiers who have left the service, had taken some form of memorabilia from the army, and this was mostly in the form of items like guns, grenades and ammunition.

A month long campaign has been launched by the army called 'Clear out your closet - return equipment to the army.' It is promising that no questions will be asked and there will be no prosecution,

A total of 100 collection points at bases and police stations have been opened. It is not just guns and ammunition that the army is seeking. They are also asking former soldiers to return boots, sleeping bags and cold-resistant suits.

In the three weeks that the campaign was launched, "thousands of people have done their duty," said the commander of the operation, Brigadier General Yoram Azulai. "And I can assure you that we have not taken one name," he said.

An army spokesman said that so far a total of 220 firearms, 20,000 parts of uniforms, 700,000 bullets or grenades, 1,000 explosives and 1,300 pyrotechnic devices have been recovered. Some of the items apparently are very old.

Azulai said: "A kibbutz decided to give up the cache of illegal weapons it held for decades," he said. But that was not all. "An officer who served during the War of Independence returned a gun dating from 1948, while we also recovered weapons from the Yom Kippur War" in 1973.

He explained that the danger of an accident or of weapons being stole are of serious concern. "In everyday life, it is very common to come across people who use military equipment for leisure. But in Israel and in an enhanced security environment, this is a very bad idea," he said.

A previous collection campaign in 2008 saw the recovery of equipment worth 7.5m shekels (£1.4m, $2m). The army was able to re-use more than half of the equipment.However, he said: "When you see the defence budget [60b shekels], it is a drop in the sea."

Azulai also pointed out that Israel "does not rely on what people bring to win the next war."