On 14 July 2003, soldiers broke into a home in the Al-Shaw`abana district to the west of Qiryat Arba where the complainant lives with her extended family. The soldiers removed all the family and undertook a search lasting several hours. The soldiers stole a gold bracelet and chain worth thousands of shekels from the house. When the family were permitted to return to their home they were astonished to find that, in addition to the theft of the jewelry, all the objects and contents of the home had been scattered around and brutally overturned. None of the members of the family was present during the search.
In response to a demand from HaMoked an investigation was instigated to clarify the circumstances of this incident. The complainant also contacted the Ministry of Defense through HaMoked and demanded compensation for the theft and for the damage to her home. The military’s response dated 22 September 2005 stated that it rejected the claim that a search took place at the complainant’s home and, accordingly, had decided to reject the demand. HaMoked requested and received the investigative file prepared by the Investigative Military Police; the file showed that the investigation was negligent, dismissive, and incomplete. In a letter from HaMoked to the Claims Department of the Ministry of Defense dated 30 January 2006, HaMoked noted the grave failings in the investigation. For example, it emerged that the IDF had lost all the records relating to the incident. Given this, what basis could there be for claiming that the complainant’s home was never searched? Moreover, the commander of the military company interrogated was not the company commander in the incident itself. Testimony was collected many months after the incident, inevitably impairing the ability of those involved to recall the details of incident and the chance of locating suspects.
In view of the defects in the investigation file as noted by HaMoked, the Ministry of Defense retracted its rejection of the claim. With the agreement of the parties, the complainant underwent a polygraph test and was found to be telling the truth. She received compensation on account of the actual value of the jewelry and on account of the mental anguish she suffered.
It would seem that the original decision by the Ministry of Defense to close the investigation file was due to improper motives, a failure to examine the details of the case, and the ignoring of substantive avenues of inquiry. The closure of the file was not due to the absence of evidence, as originally claimed, since the Ministry of Defense was in possession of the investigation file before it was viewed by HaMoked and was aware of its content. HaMoked believes that the decision to deny the complainant compensation for the damages she sustained reflected a hope on the part of the Ministry of Defense that the injured party would tire of its efforts, refrain from examining the veracity of the military’s claims, and withdraw its demand for compensation.