Israeli military indicts 3 soldiers for looting in Gaza war
JERUSALEM (AP) -- The Israeli military announced Sunday it indicted three soldiers for allegedly taking money from a building in Gaza during last year's war against Hamas militants.
The military said that two soldiers were indicted on suspicion they took the equivalent of $605 and another is accused of helping them.
A military police investigation was opened after the soldiers' commander reported them, it said. The military said it repeatedly tried to find the owner of the building but attempts were unsuccessful.
Investigations into more than 120 soldiers have been opened over their conduct during the fighting, the military said. The three soldiers who were indicted last week are the first to face charges so far, it said.
The 50-day war was the third and bloodiest round of fighting since late 2008 between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza. Some 2,200 people were killed on the Palestinian side and 72 on the Israeli side.
Hamas violently took over Gaza in 2007 from forces loyal to the government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The ongoing Palestinian rift is just one of the many obstacles to a potential peace accord between Israel and Abbas' government.
In Jerusalem on Sunday, Abbas' chief negotiator expressed skepticism about peace prospects with the next Israeli government following comments made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the recent campaign.
In the final days of the campaign, Netanyahu said he would not allow the establishment of a Palestinian state on his watch, saying that regional turmoil made this impossible.
Speaking to a gathering of international reporters, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that Netanyahu's comments were irresponsible and would cause despair among Palestinians.
"Desperation will lead to desperate acts," Erekat warned. He added that Netanyahu's opposition to Palestinian statehood raised serious questions about reviving negotiations. "What do I talk to him about?" he said.
Netanyahu secured-re-election in March 17 elections, but has not yet formed a government coalition. He is widely expected to form a government with hard-line and religious parties that oppose major concessions to the Palestinians.