Military prosecutors filed indictments Sunday at the Jaffa Military Court against two IDF soldiers for allegedly stealing money from Palestinians at the Qalandiya checkpoint north of Jerusalem, and for at least on two occasions forcing female tourists at the crossing to remove their shirts.
The two corporals in the Military Police’s Border Crossings Unit allegedly stole cash from Palestinians undergoing security checks at the crossing. According to the indictment, they also asked two female tourists on two separate occasions to remove their shirts during a security check when there was no clear security need to do so and in violation of standing orders at the crossing that prohibit male guards from strip-searching female civilians.
They were charged with looting, attempted looting, indecent assault, and improper use of authority. The indictment also ascribed to the soldiers a racist motive, saying the two believed that “since Palestinians are hurting Jews, it is legitimate to take their property.”
The indictment said the two began planning to steal cash from Palestinians after one day finding large sums of money in the luggage of a Palestinian woman passing through the checkpoint.
They then conspired to take joint shifts on a relatively isolated security checkpoint at the crossing, where they focused their attention on middle-aged women. Against regulations, they would send the women’s luggage through the X-ray machine. Any bag that contained cash would be taken to the luggage inspection booth, the only part of the facility that was not covered by surveillance cameras. Each time, they took small amounts to prevent detection, the indictment says.
The incidents took place over some six months, from March to September 2018. They were finally caught by a police officer at the crossing who grew suspicious last month and carefully observed the two, at one point catching them in the act. They allegedly managed to steal some NIS 1,600 from 13 known victims, according to prosecutors. They attempted but failed to steal cash from at least 17 others, the indictment says.
Military prosecutors asked that they be remanded for the duration of the legal proceedings against them.
Their defense attorney told reporters Sunday that “we believe that at the trial, the military court will find that there is less in the charges than meets the eye, and that the defense’s evidence, which will be revealed [at the trial], will demonstrate that.”