JERUSALEM – Five Israeli soldiers manning a busy checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah have confessed to accepting bribes from Palestinians and are now under arrest, the military said Monday.
A military spokeswoman said the soldiers admitted accepting money, drugs and food at the Qalandia checkpoint (search) between Jerusalem and Ramallah (search), the Palestinian commercial and administrative center in the West Bank, in exchange for allowing Palestinians free access in and out of the city.
The spokeswoman said the soldiers — both male and female — were under arrest pending the results of an investigation by military police. The findings will be turned over to military prosecutors, she said.
The Qalandia checkpoint is the main crossing from the northern West Bank (search) into Jerusalem. There have been numerous complaints from Palestinians and human rights groups about abuses at the site.
Israel maintains that the checkpoint, and dozens like it throughout the West Bank, are necessary to prevent suicide bombers and other attackers from entering Israel. More than 900 Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks during 40 months of violence.
On Sunday, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported the Israeli military had disbanded a military police unit because its soldiers abused Palestinians at Qalandia and confiscated belongings.
The army was checking the report, a military spokeswoman said.