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The IDF presents: Looting West Bank homes under the guise of a search

In the West Bank, IDF soldiers have in numerous instances burst into a Palestinian house, wreaked havoc, and disappeared with the money and the gold.

By Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz

IDF Soldier During a House Raid near Hebron. Photo:Meged Gozani/Activestills.org

IDF Soldier During a House Raid near Hebron. Photo: Meged Gozani/Activestills.org

The place: the West Bank village of Kalil. The time: 1:30 a.m., the beginning of June 2015.

Athmad Aziz Shakhada Mansour, a social activist and a member of the village council, wakes up from a noise she has become accustomed to: violent knocking on the front door of the house. She instructs her husband to secure the money and gold the family holds for the wedding of their son M., who is supposed to marry in two days’ time.

The noises continue. Mansour goes to open the door. A large group of hooded soldiers burst into the house. Somehow, the strange custom of IDF soldiers to hide their faces, as if they were not in charge of law enforcement but rather breaking it—as if they were thieves in the night—has become a fixture over the past few years, while the public remains silent.

The soldiers, as usual, gather the residents of the house into one room and forbid them from leaving. When they enter the bedroom, they find Mansour’s husband trying to pack up the money and gold. The husband tells them loudly that he wants to protect the gold. Some of the soldiers answer in fluent Arabic, Mansour later remembers, that soldiers are not thieves.

The soldiers conduct a search of the house. They are probably looking for arms. They detain Mansour’s husband and her son, S., while shouting, “Tell us where the weapons are! You have weapons, surrender them and we’ll release the detainees! You have a wedding in two days, you wouldn’t want the father and one of the brothers to be held custody!”

Finally, the soldiers give up and leave, taking the son, S., with them, but releasing the father. They didn’t find any weapons. A week later S. is released without charge.

Once the family leaves the room where they were held, they find the usual trail of destruction — a hallmark of a visit by the IDF. The chicken feed spilled on the floor, all of the dishware thrown from the cupboards, and the contents of the drawers thrown on the ground.

Among the missing objects is 30,000 NIS ($7,950) in cash, as well as 22 gold coins, purchased for M.’s wedding.

The soldiers, as we understand it, likely had a legitimate reason to break into the house at night. They may well have had a legitimate reason to detain S., as well, but we have no idea what that reason is. The disappearance of the money and gold after the search, however, indicates a case of looting. Again, IDF soldiers are allowed to confiscate property that may be suspected of being used in the committing of a crime. They must, however, supply the owners with a written confirmation of the confiscation. In the absence of such a document, the assumption should be that we are dealing with looting. Mansour heard from her daughter-in-law, S.’s wife, that 8,000 NIS ($2,120) were also stolen from his house (on the lower floor of the building) during the same search. However, we do not have a direct testimony regarding that claim.

Looting is a war crime. Although Israeli military law does not call it that by name, it nevertheless carries a punishment of 10 years in prison. This isn’t the first case of looting on part of the IDF that we know of. We documented one case in February 2013, in which soldiers vandalized a home and looted money from it. In September 2013, we documented a case in which soldiers burst into a house (the wrong one, as it turned out) and vanished with a woman’s life savings.

The very violent Operation Brother’s Keeper in the West Bank in 2014 included several cases of looting. One of them, a year ago, looks like a direct copy of Mansour’s story. Soldiers burst into a house to look for weapons, didn’t find them, and made off with gold. In another case, in which the soldiers acted as if they had come for the sole purpose of confiscating money (they left no receipt) one of the soldiers broke a child’s piggy bank and stole its contents. In yet another case, the soldiers came to a house, took the money – which turned out to be tax money paid by the townspeople – and told the owner he would receive a receipt from the police. The owner didn’t know what he was talking about. In another instance of looting, soldiers took an envelope full of money that had been hidden by the homeowner on her body, while also stealing hundreds of shekels from her purse. This is just a partial list of cases of looting, which also took place during Operation Protective Edge (for which the IDF’s Military Advocate General ordered several indictments), and the looting of the Mavi Marmara detainees in 2010 (Hebrew). Earlier examples can be seen here.

Therefore when the soldiers of the most moral army in the world claim that they are not thieves, we cannot take them at their word.

Looting cannot be excused, and what we cannot excuse, we suppress. When we suppress, we become silent partners in a war crime.

So here it is, in full view. Do with it as you will. You can no longer say, however, that you did not know.

Our attorney, Emily Schaeffer Omer-Man, sent a complaint in late June to the Operational Affairs Attorney, Lt. Col. Adoram Riegler, demanding an urgent investigation both of the soldiers and of their commanders (who have command responsibility, which MP-CID often ignores.) We will keep you posted on developments, although history cautions us not to expect too much from the military justice system.

Written by Yossi Gurvitz in his capacity as a blogger for Yesh Din, Volunteers for Human Rights. A version of this post was first published on Yesh Din’s blog.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Weiss

      Here in the U.S. This is called Armed Robbery, which is a violent felony.

      In this case it is sanctioned by a State which makes it State sponsored.

      THIS Jew will NOT be SILENT !!!

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        “THIS Jew will NOT be SILENT !!!”

        Coulda fooled me, you seem to be very silent about what Palestinian Arabs have been doing to Israeli Jews!!!

        Reply to Comment
        • michael bradley

          “In a world filled with blind men the one-eyed man appears to be visionary”

          Reply to Comment
    2. Anne O'Nimmus

      Dear Gustav, please post lots of nice juicy (English language) links to all the armed home invasions within Israel carried out by marauders from occupied Palestine! Seems like you *must* know of many incidences.

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        LOL you people are pathetic….

        …just pathetic….

        You are trying to create a parallel universe here in + 972 Land. LOL.

        By the way, “Anne” you are fooling no one. We know who you really are!

        Reply to Comment
    3. Gustav

      Dear Anne

      Are you seriously trying to deny Palestinian Arab attacks on Jews? Here are just a few such attacks…

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ma%27alot_massacre

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sbarro_restaurant_suicide_bombing

      http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=11381

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samir_Kuntar

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itamar_attack

      Here is a history of attacks…

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_political_violence

      http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Terrorism/victims.html

      Unbelievable that you even suggest that the Palestinian Arabs have not been guilty of terrorism against us.

      …and please don’t mention the “occupation” because they were massacring Jews way… way…. way BEFORE the occupation. For instance, the Hebron massacre took place in 1929!!!!!!!!

      Reply to Comment
    4. Ben

      Classic Gustav. Anne asked you to detail for us ” all the armed home invasions within Israel carried out by marauders from occupied Palestine!” You could not of course. So you responded with an accusation that she suggested something she did not. At all. And the by now very classic paranoid “you’re not fooling anyone….” LoL. “Parallel universe”? Gustav you are living in it.

      Anne, nice to see a fresh and effective voice here. Please keep posting! And don’t mind the troll chatter about how you are “really” someone else. It’s all they’ve got.

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        Benny? Is that you again? What a surprise…

        Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            “On 5 June 2001, Yehuda Shoham, a 5-month-old baby, was killed when a rock hurled by stone-throwing Palestinians crashed through the window of the car he was riding in, crushing his skull.[173]”

            “On 23 September 2011, Asher (25) and Yonatan Palmer (1) were killed when the car Asher was driving was attacked by stone-throwing Palestinians, causing it to crash killing him along with his infant son.[174]”

            “On 14 March 2013,[175] the Biton’s family car was attacked, near neighboring village of Kif el-Hares, with stones which caused it to get out of control and collide with a truck. Adele Biton was critically injured along with her mother and 3 sisters who were moderately injured, and died two years later.[176]”

            This is what your stone throwing innocents can do. Couple that to the long list of Palestinian Arab terrorism against Israeli Jews, and bad things happen from our side too. Want it to stop? Tell your darling Palestinians to sign a peace deal with us.

            Want Nurenberg style war crime trials? We are game but we have one condition. The entire leadership of the Palestinian Arabs, past and present, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Aqsa, Tanzim and the PA too have to face the music. Ok Benny?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Gustav the Gangster comes clean. He’s ok with occupying IDF troops (of the “most moral army” no less) routinely breaking in and stealing from an occupied people. A war crime. (It’s what the article is about lest we forget and get off topic yet again–he certainly wants us to.) And with his awful bargaining about Nuremberg Gustav pretty much admits guilt. But Gustav has no embarrassment or shame. He thinks that’s just fine as a collective punishment method of extorting a “peace deal” from the occupied population. Gangland style: “Want it to stop? Tell your darling Palestinians to sign a peace deal with us.” Pathetic.

            “So here it is, in full view. Do with it as you will. You can no longer say, however, that you did not know.”

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Benny the gangster comes clean.

            All he wants to do is sling mud, demonize and accuse ONE SIDE ONLY, Israel.

            He is ok with the other side, the Palestinian Arabs continuing 100 years of war, vendetta and indiscriminate terrorism against Jewish Israeli civilians, a war which the Palestinian Arabs started way, way, way before there was occupation. But Benny expects us to turn the other cheek. And to my suggestion that in order for this madness to end, the Palestinian Arabs must be willing to sign a peace deal with us, benny calls that: “extorting a “peace deal”

            So, there for the full view for all to see is a ‘one eyed’ hater and a Racist, Benny. And he is not alone. There are many like minded Jew hating extremists out there (some are brainwashed self hating Jews – during the attempt to exterminate us in WW2, they were known as Kapos). Hey, they are not a new phenomenon. We Jews have suffered their hatred for millenia that is why Israel the majority Jewish nation state is essential. It is the only safe haven for Jews who want to be protected from the undying hatred of scum like Benny.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            You just simply made all of that up. Just invented it. Just like that. All the vicious slander about “Jew hatred.” The article is about the state’s soldiers routinely–not just “the bad apples”–looting, stealing from the occupied populace while terrorizing them in the middle of the night and in general treating them as sub-human. You like Room Number 4 too, Gustav? Huh? To continue Anne O’Nimmus’s line of questioning, which you never answered, only attempted to distract from, please do show us all those Room 4’s where the Palestinians every day capture and brutalize Jewish children!

            It’s ok Gustav. Noam Sheizaf has said very clearly that his target audience with +972 are English speakers outside Israel. He regards people like you as incapable of change. He is convinced change will have to come from outside Israel by thoughtful people who are not brainwashed. So you camp out here and whine incessantly but Sheizaf and Co. are declaredly not writing for Israeli types like you. They know you don’t get it and never will.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Lying is natural for Benny.

            1. He claims I did not answer Anne’s challenge. But my answer is there in plain view for everyone to see. See my earlier post it lists a sample of atrocities committed by Palestinian Arabs against Israeli Jews.

            2. He claims that my accusation of him as a hater of Jews is just a made up story. But what do you call someone who…

            Ignores all atrocities committed by Palestinian Arabs against Israeli Jews…

            …and in the same breath demonizes Israeli Jews every chance he gets?

            ANSWER: A Jew hater. Yep, Benny hates Israeli Jews!!!!

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            In the list of atrocities which I posted to Anne, look at two which were particularly NASTY home invasions one of which involved the brutal butchery of an entire family including a baby. I mean of course the heartless massacre of the Fogel family.

            The other one was the massacre of an entire group of school children at Maalot.

            Of course those two atrocities are just a teeny weeny sample of the total number of atrocities committed by the “brave freedom fighting” Palestinian Arab murderers whom the Bennies and the Annes of this world so admire!!!!!!!!

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            The Fogel family massacre occurred outside Israel, inside a particularly aggressive* settlement in the occupied West Bank.

            *Tensions between Itamar and the nearby Palestinian village of Awarta had been rising before the attack. Palestinians had accused settlers in the locality of cutting down hundreds of olive trees, burning cars and shooting at Palestinian residents. Ten Palestinians and one settler were injured in a confrontation in the week before the attack, when Israeli soldiers were accused of opening fire to quell the clash, and two Palestinian teenagers had been shot to death a year previously as they collected garbage near Itamar. (Wikipedia)

            The Maalot attack occurred in 1974.
            41 years ago. Let me repeat that: 41 years ago.

            Funny I don’t recall you using “brutal, nasty, heartless” to describe the *much* more recent atrocity committed against the Dawabshe family. That atrocity according to you was just perpetrated by “idiots.” That’s all. Mere stupidity.

            The other funny thing is that you always write, Gustav as if only those Palestinians had *not* attacked us, if only, then we would have gladly returned the occupied territories to them. When you *know* that the opposite is the case: without the attacks Israel would still have not given one dunam back and would have utterly ignored the Palestinians, at best and would have been pleased as punch to occupy indefinitely in the absence of resistance. You write as if the terror attacks are the reason why Israel has continued to gobble up the land and returned nothing, and that is simply a lie.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Notice what Benny does…

            I highlighted two of MANY examples of atrocities by Palestinian Arabs. The Maalot massacre ad the Fogel family massacre.

            First, he ignores the Maalot massacre entirely. Then he proceeds to list all sorts of LAME excuses for the Fogel family massacre.

            But how can a decent person (Benny claims to be a decent person) excuse the slaughter of …

            “five members of the same family who were murdered in their beds. The victims were the father Ehud (Udi) Fogel, the mother Ruth Fogel, and three of their six children—Yoav, 11, Elad, 4, and Hadas, the youngest, a three-month-old infant.”

            …how, Benny?????!!!!!! How can you excuse the cold blooded butchery of three children including an infant? Because they are Israeli settlers says Benny the sicko!!!!!

            And then Benny goes on talking ONLY about what we do wrong then he has the hide to call me a gangster even though I suggested that all who are scandalized by ANY atrocity committed by EITHER side should be prepared to EITHER call for BOTH sides to be persecuted. OR if they are NOT prepared to see Palestinian Arab perpetrators and their leadership face persecution then they should desist calling for the persecution of ONLY Israelis and our leaders.

            Note the difference? I say persecute either BOTH or none. Benny says, persecute ONLY Israeli Jews.

            I’ll therefore say it again. Benny is the gangster because he is a one eyed racist hater!!!!!!

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Notice what Benny does…

            I highlighted two of MANY examples of atrocities by Palestinian Arabs. The Maalot massacre ad the Fogel family massacre.

            First, he dismisses the Maalot massacre entirely, as he dismisses all the other anti Israel atrocities which I listed on this site. Then he proceeds to list all sorts of LAME excuses for the Fogel family massacre.

            But how can a decent person (Benny claims to be a decent person) excuse the slaughter of …

            “five members of the same family who were murdered in their beds. The victims were the father Ehud (Udi) Fogel, the mother Ruth Fogel, and three of their six children—Yoav, 11, Elad, 4, and Hadas, the youngest, a three-month-old infant.”

            …how, Benny?????!!!!!! How can you excuse the cold blooded butchery of three children including an infant? Because they are Israeli settlers says Benny the sicko!!!!!

            And then Benny goes on talking ONLY about what we do wrong then he has the hide to call me a gangster even though I suggested that all who are scandalized by ANY atrocity committed by EITHER side should be prepared to EITHER call for BOTH sides to be persecuted. OR if they are NOT prepared to see Palestinian Arab perpetrators and their leadership face persecution then they should desist calling for the persecution of ONLY Israelis and our leaders.

            Note the difference? I say persecute either BOTH or none. Benny says, persecute ONLY Israeli Jews.

            I’ll therefore say it again. Benny is the gangster because he is a one eyed racist hater!!!!!!

            Reply to Comment