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Testimony: Soldiers caught stealing money from Palestinian house during search and ordered to return it, Oct. 2007

Ibtesam Rahal, 43

Ibtesam Rahal

Two days ago [Tuesday, 30 October], around 9 A.M., somebody telephoned and asked if my children were at home. He said, "Auntie, how are you?" I replied: "May God bless you." Then he asked, "Where are your children?" I replied that none of them were at home. He asked me about one of my sons, Ihab, and I replied that he was in the yard. The speaker asked me to call him to the phone. I called Ihab inside and the two of them spoke. I started going downstairs to go outside, and as I did, some masked soldiers came into the house. I have no idea where they came from. I shouted to Ihab to escape because the army had come.

I went back up to the second floor. The soldiers put my daughter Rahija, 18, my brother Salem 's wife, and me in the living room, which is on the first floor. My son Iyad was sleeping in his room and his wife was not at home. While we were waiting in the living room, I heard Iyad cry out. I shouted to the soldier to release him, and the soldiers shouted at me to shut up.

About ten minutes later, I noticed that the soldiers were heading towards my bedroom. I asked them to let me enter it so I could get my money and gold jewelry. One of them told me in Arabic that they were looking for weapons and not for money and gold. I tried to enter the room three times, but they did not let me. They also didn't let me speak to my daughter and sister-in-law.

From the living room, I saw one of the soldiers leave my bedroom holding the purse in which I keep money. It is a small, blue purse that I keep in the closet. My sister-in-law and my daughter also saw the soldier holding the purse. I shouted to the soldiers that the soldier had taken the wallet. One of the soldiers was about to shove a piece of cloth in my mouth, but I told him that I was ill and that something might happen to me if he did that. I kept asking them to give back the money. My sister-in-law told a soldier that she had seen one of the soldiers going downstairs with the purse, and he replied that they were not thieves. I asked to speak with the officer, and one of the soldiers took off his mask and asked me what the problem was. I told him that one of the soldiers had gone downstairs with the purse. My sister-in-law confirmed what I said. The soldier went out to the jeeps and came back with the purse. He gave it to me and left the house. I think he was the last to leave the house. When I opened the purse, I found that the whole amount, 3,000 Jordanian dinars [~18,000 shekels], ten gold coins and a gold necklace were inside. The rooms were a total mess. I closed the door to Iyad's room because his wife was not at home. The soldiers had taken Iyad and his brother Ihab.

Iyad returned about two hours later, and I asked him to check his room. He was the first to enter his room after the soldiers had left, and he found the bag in which he kept his money empty. Before the soldiers came, there had been 2,500 dinars in it. The soldiers didn't find his wife's gold [jewelry] because it was hidden in an inside pocket of the bag.

Ibtesam 'Alian As'ad Rahal, 43, married with ten children, is a homemaker and a resident of Silat a-Thaher. Her testimony was given to Atef Abu a-Rub at the witness' home on 1 November 2007.