The time: 02:00 AM, late June, 2014, during Operation Brother’s Keeper. The place: the village of Einbus in the northern West Bank. A large group of soldiers burst into the house of Moyser Khassan Ahmed Khamed, and demanded that the residents all gather in one room. Then they pulled some of them for interrogation, which was carried out with yelling, and heard by the entire household.
The soldiers came to Khamed’s house for a clear and legal military purpose: searching for weapons. Naturally, they didn’t bother to present or even get a search warrant; such protection is invalid in the territories held – temporarily, of course – under occupation, for slightly more than 47 years. According to Khamed’s testimony, the soldiers caused widespread damage to the house. They destroyed three cellphones and an iPad; they broke some of the walls, smashed a kitchen table, ripped the coverings off chairs. Khamed’s daughter, Isra, had a doll collection, collected over some years; she asked the soldiers to leave the dolls unharmed. The soldiers, according to Khamed, broke the dolls nevertheless. For dessert, the soldiers smashed the doors of Khamed’s husband’s car, ripped out the fillings of the chairs, and dislodged the engine.
No weapons were found in this search. But when the Khamed household finished tallying the damage left by the IDF, the found that some items were missing. To begin with, some 5,000 NIS in cash went missing from a drawer, where they had been kept for Ramadan purchases. If this was a seizure of funds, and the IDF did say there has been a massive seizure of money – some 1.2 million NIS – then the soldiers were supposed to leave documents proving that that is what it was. In their absence, our assumption is that until proven otherwise, this is not a seizure, it’s looting.
Particularly when it comes not to cash, which can always be said to be used for nefarious goals, but jewelry. According to Khamed’s testimony, aside from the money, the following items were also missing: six golden bracelets, bought as gifts for her son’s engagement, as well as a necklace containing gold coins, and several rings. The worth of the taken jewelry – which, again. We assume were looted until proven otherwise – is some 15,000 NIS. Aside from that, a smartphone has also gone missing. Again, there may be a legitimate reason to seize the device – but such a seizure has to be supported by documentation, and none was presented.
The family intends to notify the MPCID. Yesh Din calls upon the MPCID to implement the conclusions of the Turkel Report, and carry out an efficient, thorough – and speedy investigation; and, assuming enough evidence against the looter or looters is gathered, file a severe indictment against them. Again, looting is a war crime.
Looting in the occupied territories has always been whispered about, not openly discussed. But this isn’t the first time we document cases of looted jewelry. Operation Brother’s Keeper was followed by a series of complaints about looting; our files document, so far, at least eight cases of seizure of property without proper documentation – that is, cases in which suspicion of looting has risen. We will keep on publishing these stories in the coming weeks. The Israeli media will not report them; but we think that you, the public community, hearing about this army, which claims to be the most moral in the world, ought to know what it actually does.