Israelis Say IDF Soldiers Looted Their Homes After Ordering Them to Evacuate in Wake of Oct 7 Attack

Chris Menahan
Nov. 03, 2023

Israeli residents of kibbutzim in Western Negev say their homes were looted by Israeli Defense Forces soldiers after they were ordered to evacuate in the wake of Hamas's Oct 7 attacks.

The claims were detailed in a report from the Israeli Hebrew-only newspaper TheMarker (as translated from Hebrew by Google):
"They emptied all my drawers": the houses of the evacuees from the south were left open to vandalism and theft

Residents of kibbutzim in the Western Negev who were evacuated from their homes say that the houses were vandalized and some of them had valuables looted - according to them, apparently by IDF soldiers ■ The Eshkol Regional Council said that two complaints were brought to the attention of the army, and an IDF investigation was even opened following one of them

by Kim Legaziel | 01 November 2023

Residents of kibbutzim in the Western Negev who were evacuated from their homes after the massacre on October 7 say that the houses were broken into, vandalized, and some of them had the few valuable items left in them after the disaster looted - according to them, apparently by IDF soldiers, who are staying in the area for operational purposes. But according to the residents the victims, when they contacted the police and asked to file a theft complaint, were told that there was no way to handle their complaint since it was an area that had been declared a closed military area - and that they should contact the army, which they said did not handle their complaints.

In the Eshkol Regional Council they say that two weeks ago a complaint was received about a theft from a house in Holit - which was forwarded to the IDF and led to the opening of an investigation at the Israel Defense Forces. According to the council, yesterday (Tuesday) another complaint arrived from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak, which was brought to the attention of the army.

According to Zohar Chaimi, a resident of Nir Yitzhak whose son Tal Chaimi was kidnapped to Gaza, his house was broken into while he was staying at a hotel in Eilat - and he is afraid of his belongings. "We left the houses as they are, some people have already returned once or twice to take equipment. The army put padlocks on doors that terrorists broke in, but these locks were broken and the members of the kibbutz tell about computers, electrical equipment and mattresses being taken."

[...] "There was looting, that's for sure. How much was looted - that's another question," says Eli Hershkowitz, a resident of Holit and a "Haaretz"-TheMarker photographer in the south, who now lives in Ofakim after being evacuated from his home, where he was besieged on the day of the massacre. When he returned to patrol the kibbutz he discovered that his house had been ransacked. "It turned out that there were unidentified soldiers in the kibbutz who went around the houses and raided them - looking for jewelry and gold," he says. "These are people in uniform, not intruders who jumped over the fences, because it is impossible to enter the kibbutz. There are positions of soldiers around all the fences. I know that complaints have been made to the police, but they claim that it is a military area and that is why they are not responsible for it and do not handle it. We contacted the Gaza Division and the military police."

Hershkowitz returned to the kibbutz five days after the outbreak of war to rescue dogs and cats - and entered his home. At this point the house was intact, but when he returned a week later he discovered that it had been ransacked. "They stole thousands of shekels in cash. They took gold-plated pendants and even gold-plated coins," he says. "They rummaged through every drawer in the house, opened the closet and looked for things inside. I have an old saboteur's knife - they stole it. They stole things that have personal value. This happened in six houses in Holit."
You just can't make this stuff up!

[Header image stock photo by the Israel Defense Forces via Flickr commons, CC BY-NC 2.0]

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