IDF soldier patrolling in Hebron, AP
IDF soldier patrolling in Hebron. Photo by AP
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The Military Police is investigating allegations that soldiers stole pieces of gold worth tens of thousands of shekels from the home of a Palestinian man during a late-night raid in a West Bank village last week.

The investigation began after the head of the household, Ata Shatwi, submitted a complaint to the Civil Administration.

Shatwi told Haaretz on Tuesday that the incident began at 2:15 A.M. on Thursday, when he opened the door of his home in Kafr Qaddum to two Israeli soldiers, who entered and handcuffed him and his son Sabri, 21, an officer in the Palestinian Authority security forces. Shortly afterward, Shatwi said, the soldiers released him and told him to take his wife and their other children out of the house, which he did.

"They explained that they wanted to search the house," Shatwi said. "They had a dog with them. I told the officer there was a large sum of cash and also gold in the house and that I wanted to remove it. I'm talking about 30 pieces of gold, worth NIS 1,500 each - in other words NIS 45,000 in all - plus NIS 10,000 in cash. He refused.

"Around two hours later I went in and was shocked by the mess," Shatwi continued. "They smashed the walls, emptied the wardrobes, smashed the television set, the furniture. I hurried to the bedroom wardrobe, where the money and gold should have been, and discovered the gold had disappeared. The money was still there.

"I asked the officer, 'Where's the gold?' He didn't answer me," Shatwi said. "He left and came back 15 minutes later with another dog and kept searching. I told him, 'Let me speak with the commander,' but he continued to ignore me. They left at around 4:30.

"I filed an official complaint at the [Civil Administration's] Coordination Liaison Office and gave a statement to [human rights group] B'Tselem," he added. "I'm willing to go to the police to make a statement. We have nothing in our home. I'm a trader, and we aren't affiliated with any organization. I worked in Israel for years and I'm not connected to anything problematic," Shatwi said.

Officials in the headquarters of the Israel Defense Forces Central Command said on Tuesday that the investigation is in the initial stages, and noted that the raid was conducted jointly by the IDF and the Border Police.

The IDF Spokesman's Office said in a statement that the matter is being investigated by the Military Police Criminal Investigative Division, which will submit its findings to the military advocate general.