26 April 2002

IDF Military Police Investigate Looting in the West Bank

(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)

In the framework of Operation Defensive Shield, the Military Police has taken steps to deal with exceptional incidents which affect the maintenance of the integrity and the "purity of arms" of the Israel Defense Forces. For this purpose, a forward unit of the Military Police was established within the Bethlehem Area Brigade.

The unit is made up of MP investigators from the regular army and the reserves, and handles complaints and irregularities. In addition, the Military Police is conducting spot searches of the equipment and vehicles of regular and reserve soldiers who participated in the fighting, with an emphasis on demobilization camps and random checkpoints.

As a result of the MP’s investigations, a number of soldiers were arrested recently on suspicion of breaking into the vehicles of other soldiers who were mobilized under an "Order #8" (emergency mobilization order) at a base in the center of the country. A recently discharged civilian was also arrested on suspicion of breaking into vehicles, and there is an ongoing investigation into the possible involvement of other soldiers.

Three soldiers are being held for questioning relating to the theft of money from the wallet of a Palestinian detainee. The soldiers admitted committing the theft. Another soldier was arrested on suspicion of looting, and the Central Military Court today charged a soldier for, inter alia, looting computer equipment and cellular phones. The Court extended his arrest for another week.

These actions are part of the IDF’s policy of dealing with exceptional cases which impact the "purity of arms" and the integrity of the Israel Defense Forces. Offenses such as these are a disgrace to those in uniform and cause untold damage to the army, whose strength lies in its high moral conduct.

In accordance with this policy, every offense will be dealt with harshly. The commanders are extremely sensitive to this subject, and most of the civilians’ complaints were transmitted to the Military Police at the initiative of the commanders.