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IDF soldier indicted for stealing Palestinians’ phone, cash during West Bank raid

Military says soldier sold device looted in Beit Ummar to third party, wiped correspondence with buyer from own phone

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Illustrative: An Israeli soldier is seen operating in the West Bank village of Teqoa, June 21, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
Illustrative: An Israeli soldier is seen operating in the West Bank village of Teqoa, June 21, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

An Israeli soldier was indicted for allegedly looting from Palestinians during a recent raid in the West Bank, the Israel Defense Forces said Thursday.

The soldier, whose identity was barred from publication, was arrested earlier this month over suspicions he stole a cellphone and a sum of cash from two Palestinians during an arrest operation in the town of Beit Ummar, near Hebron.

According to the IDF, the soldier later sold the cellphone to a third party, who did not initially know it was stolen.

“After the defendant learned that the buyer understood that it was a stolen phone, and asked to return it, the defendant deleted correspondence between him and the buyer from his mobile phone,” the IDF said in a statement.

Following the Wednesday indictment, which included charges of looting, tampering with evidence, and conduct unbecoming a soldier, he was ordered held in custody until Tuesday.

“The IDF views the acts attributed to the soldier seriously and will take a firm stance against those involved in such acts,” the military said.

Israeli security forces have stepped up their operations in the West Bank, following a deadly wave of terror attacks that left 19 people dead between mid-March and the beginning of May. During raids across the West Bank overnight, security forces arrested 12 wanted Palestinians, the IDF said Thursday morning.

While rare, there have been several publicized incidents of looting in the Israeli army in recent years.

In 2018, two IDF soldiers were indicted for allegedly stealing money from Palestinians at a checkpoint north of Jerusalem, and in 2015 three soldiers were indicted for looting from the homes of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip during the 2014 war between Israel and the Hamas terrorist group.

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