Three Israeli soldiers were indicted for offenses allegedly committed during last summer’s Gaza war, the army reported Sunday.
According to a statement from the Military Advocate General, two soldiers were charged with looting around $600 from a Palestinian house in the Gaza neighborhood of Shajaiyeh, where their force had taken up positions.
The two infantry soldiers were indicted in a military court in the northern city of Haifa and charged with looting as well as obstructing justice. A third soldier was charged with aiding and abetting the theft. A military police investigation already had been opened during the war when the soldiers’ commander reported them.
Since the deadly summer war, Israel’s army has been reviewing more than 120 cases of alleged violations of international law by its soldiers in Gaza.
So far, the Military Advocate General had ordered criminal investigations into 19 cases and closed several dozen others. The indictments announced Sunday were the first to be served in Gaza-related cases, several of which are grave and concern incidents in which Israeli military operations caused multiple civilian fatalities.
Several international reports have accused both Israel and the Palestinians of war crimes in the course of the Gaza war, which killed about 2,200 Palestinians and 70 Israelis during July and August.
In January the International Criminal Court announced opening a preliminary probe into “the situation” in the West Bank and Gaza to determine if there was a basis for proceeding with an investigation of war crimes.
The announcement came shortly after the Palestinian Authority moved to join the Hague-based ICC in order to pursue Israel for alleged war crimes. Israel was enraged by the Palestinian move, claiming it was a unilateral violation of the Oslo peace accords and a diplomatic attack to de-legitimize Israel.
In response, Israel withheld months' worth of taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in keeping with the longstanding accords. The funds were released only recently amid concerns the chronically cash-strapped Palestinian Authority could collapse and after both sides reached an agreement on addressing outstanding Palestinian debts to Israel.
Sobelman is a special correspondent