Police said they had received a report from the Ministry of Defence "about the theft of a tank from an army training base near the Iliakim intersection".

Police launched a search campaign in the area in northern Israel and soon "found the tank in a scrapyard in the nearby Nesher area."

Police said they were investigating the motive behind the tank theft and how the robbery was carried out.

The Israeli military said in a statement that the stolen Merkava 2 tank "was taken out of service many years ago."

"The tank is demilitarized and its systems are not working," the army said, noting that it was used for training in a firing zone accessible to infantry.

This is not the first time in recent months that an old tank has been stolen in Israel: in February a tank was stolen from a memorial site to be used in anti-government protests.