Israel Probing Claims Of Flotilla Ship Thefts

Israel is investigating claims that some of its soldiers stole personal belongings of activists participating in the controversial Gaza aid flotilla in May. At least four soldiers were being detained on suspicion of stealing and selling laptops belonging to activists aboard the ship Mavi Marmara. Ynetnews, the English-language website affiliated with the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, first reported the development and other agencies have followed up. The Israeli military intercepted the ship and others to keep them from entering the Palestinian territory of Gaza. Violence erupted on the Mavi Marmara and left nine Turkish citizens dead, including one with dual U.S. citizenship. When asked about the theft of computers, electronic devices and money, an Israel Defense Forces representative told CNN that "at this point it is not certain that the equipment indeed originated on the Mavi Marmara. The matter is currently investigated by the military police criminal investigation division and we cannot therefore provide any further details at this time." Ynet quoted a high-ranking officer saying the investigation "has just begun, but as it appears now it will prove embarrassing and shameful. These are soldiers who don't understand what their uniform represents." Haneen Zoabi, an Arab Israeli member of the Knesset who was aboard the Mavi Marmara, said this must have taken place while the Israeli navy was confiscating the ship and forcing it to dock in Ashdod. "This is not a surprise and it is not the whole truth," Zoabi said. "We will discover that a lot of the personal belongings of the activists were stolen and looted." Zoabi contended the items were stolen "not after the confiscation of the ship but even before we docked in Ashdod," because most of the activists were unable to reach their belongings, which he said soldiers placed "in one big pile." Zoabi said one activist who was able to reach his belongings discovered that 2,000 euros and $2,000 had disappeared from his