Israeli Army Indicts Three Soldiers for Looting During Gaza War

The move marks the first of the military police’s 19 investigations into Operation Protective Edge to produce indictments.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Israeli soldiers near the border as they return from Gaza, August 4, 2012.
Israeli soldiers near the border as they return from Gaza, August 4, 2012.Credit: AFP
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The military prosecutor has indicted three Golani Brigade soldiers for looting during the Gaza war last summer — the first indictments against soldiers taking part in the 50-day war against Hamas and its allies.

The three men are accused of stealing 2,240 shekels ($605) from a house in Gaza’s Shujaiyeh neighborhood early in the war. Shujaiyeh saw very heavy fighting.

Another soldier was charged with aiding the alleged theft. Two of the soldiers have also been charged with obstruction of justice.

For more than two months the military prosecutor was widely expected to file charges, after he had held a hearing for the soldiers and their lawyers.

A Golani soldier was arrested in August on suspicion of stealing cash from a house in Shujaiyeh. According to investigators, the soldiers took the money on July 20, just a few hours after the Battle of Shujaiyeh.

One soldier reportedly regretted his actions and informed his commander. The investigation was opened after the soldier’s battalion commander reported the acts to the military police.

This is the first of the military police’s 19 investigations into Operation Protective Edge to produce indictments. The other cases being investigated include alleged theft, looting, beating Palestinian detainees and using them as human shields, firing at ambulances, and wounding a Palestinian woman carrying a white flag.

The military police are also investigating a number of operational incidents, including the shelling of a UN school, the killing of four children on the Gaza shore, and the bombing of a Khan Yunis home that killed 27 people.

Two investigations into alleged looting in the city of Khan Yunis were closed after the Palestinians who complained refused to appear and testify.

Dozens of soldiers and officers have been questioned during these investigations, even a battalion commander.

The military advocate general, Maj. Gen. Danny Efroni, told Haaretz this month that the army would not indict anyone “for a reasonable error in the midst of fighting like, for example, if you shoot to wound a terrorist and by mistake you hit a civilian.”

According to Efroni, “We will not put soldiers on trial only to satisfy the media, which is disturbed by the large number of civilians killed in the war.”

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