Evidence is mounting that the Israeli Army is stealing people’s belongings as they search homes. Even the very precious stores of foods that remain in Ramallah are being plundered. We have been hearing about this since the begining of this occupation on Friday the 29th of March, 2002. It took some time for the picture to develop clearly. Here is what they do: they enter to search a home, place all family members in one room, search and leave. When they leave, family members come out of their room and realize that their belongings are missing.
1.Stealing Money, Equipment and other Items, and eating people’s food.
Saturday March 30, 10 a.m. right behind the Muqata’a in al-Bireh:
“They broke everything when they came in, and stole as well… we are merchants and have money at home always, they stole all the money we have, lots of money, at least 25,000 USD, and also batteries, 3 mobiles and expensive watches. It is crazy, but they also stole our prayer rugs and Qur’an! “
At around 11 am the same day:
“They came in, placed us all in one room, searched the house, and when we came out we realized that the following was missing: 3000 USD, NIS 1800, pens, a watch, a video camera battery, brand new in its box… they left the box, and took also my 050 (Israeli) mobile phone”.
At around 12 of the same day:
“When they left I went to see if they took anything, as we have been hearing about this… they stole my two diamond rings, my gold, my money, 1000 USD and 1000 Jordanian dinars, three watches and a video camera and two ordinary cameras, they even stole the precious 800 USD that the Sri Lankan maid has saved to get back home”
At around 1 pm in the same area:
“They searched and stole my money, 23,000 IS that I kept for emergencies… I realized this quickly and came out running after them and told the commander. he told me he will get back to me.. instead, they ran over my BMW car, parked right outside the house, and then burned it. It seems that this was done because I complained.”
And in an apartment near the Ramallah Municipality, on April 1st around 4 pm:
“After the search, I discovered that NIS 800 and 60 Jordanian Dinars I had kept in a drawer were missing. They had broken the drawer which was locked, to get to the money. At the neighbors, they stole a camera, and ate their cake”
And I have more documentation like this, with exact times, dates and places, and what was stolen, but names of people have been withheld for obvious reasons.
2. Stealing of Ramallah’s remaining and by now precious food supplies:
Report of stolen food items from the biggest food supermarket in Ramallah, situated close to Masioun, between Masioun and Imm al-Sharayet… This was on April 1st Monday at midday:
“I live close to Max Supermarket. I saw all that happened. The tank came and broke the front door, then they closed the other door, went in, and broke another door. Then they exploded the safe, obviously to steal the money inside, this is the proof that they were after money. Computers and offices all went in the process. Also the special store for special foods was destroyed. The safe did not open though, a small hole only. We heard everything. Our neighbors said that they had two APC’s full of soldiers with them, and they began to load in food items. they took them away and came back and filled up again with food and left. Later, we went and saw how it was, the destruction and the loss of food items. Two APC’s were loaded with food.”
When we raise this issue, apparently the Israeli army claims that these are exceptional and isolated cases of individual actions and not army policy.
The story on the ground however reveals that these actions are quite systematic, and have occured elsewhere and everywhere, as in Balata camp for instance around a month ago, and can only lead to the following possible interpretations:
1. That the army has given the go-ahead to soldiers to steal and pilfer;
2. That the army has not, but is turning a blind eye, perhaps as compensation for soldiers doing a “dirty and dangerous job; 3. That the army higher echelons have not given these orders but that they have lost control, a most dangerous realization and contrary to Israeli army claims of discipline and strict control of the so-called Israeli Defence Force (IDF).