WATCH: IDF officer head-butts Palestinian youth in the face in Hebron
Human rights NGO B'Tselem reported the incident to army authorities; IDF in response: film does not show the commander being violently assaulted.
An IDF lieutenant head-butted a Palestinian youth in the face, a video filmed in the city of Hebron on Wednesday and uploaded to YouTube has revealed.
A volunteer for the nongovernment organization B'Tselem filmed the video on Wednesday from the window of his home in Hebron, documenting an IDF soldier as he stopped a number of Palestinian youths, thought to be between 10 and 17 years of age, next to the Beit Hadassah checkpoint in Hebron.
While the soldier orders the youths to wait next to a wall, the video shows the 17-years-old standing in front of the soldier in a defiant manner, and a dispute develops between them.
The short film documents the remainder of the incident in the presence of an officer with the rank of captain. The ensuing seconds of video record a confrontation between Palestinian Thair Ghanam and the IDF captain, including blows and mutual shoving. The officer is shown grasping the youth, who says to him "I am balagan” - Hebrew slang for mess and disorder.
In response, the officer asks “Are you a balagan” while grasping the throat of Ghanam, who answers, “Alright."
The film stops for several seconds, apparently while the cameraman changes position. When it resumes, the officer is grasping the Palestinian's throat and choking him.
The film seems to show the Palestinian bleeding from the nose and the officer calling him to stop in Arabic as he follows the youth up the street. The volunteer then descends onto the road itself and continues to film what is happening.
“Move, get rid of the camera,” one of the soldiers in the force tells him. The film continues, showing the officer arresting Ghanam and handcuffing him.
When the video resumes, it shows the officer leading the Palestinian, whose eyes are covered with a piece of cloth, onto a military vehicle.
According to a report by the B'Tselem, the youth was taken to an army base on al-Shuhada Street, and released a short time later, when he was taken to a Hebron hospital and diagnosed with a broken nose.
The human rights group also said that it had reported the incident to the IDF Spokesman's Office and passed the video documentation on to military authorities and to the Military Police, together with a request for an investigation.
In response, the IDF spokesman said: "During a routine operation in Hebron, a group of Palestinians refused to identify themselves at the request of an IDF force. When their commander arrived at the scene, he was violently assaulted by one of the Palestinians, an incident not shown in the video. On the surface, the video seems to have been edited in a biased manner and it does not represent the full incident. The event is being examined."
Thair Ghanam told Haaretz that he was on his way home from work when he was encountered the soldiers at the checkpoint.
"I work at a bakery and and I was going home in the early hours of the evening, before the break of the fast (of Ramadan), I passed the first checkpoint and then a soldier called me over to the second checkpoint, he spoke to me in a disgusting manner and ordered me to give him my ID," he said.
"I said that I didn't have it because he spoke in a humiliating manner. Then the officer arrived and started shouting and raised his hand, and then I grabbed hold of his hand, and said that I had an ID. He started shouting and grabbed me and touched my face and gave me a few slaps. After that a group of soldiers took me when I was handcuffed and my eyes were shut and threw me in a room or a place that was very dirty. In the meantime, my shirt was covered in blood and I was fasting, and the muezzin was calling the end of the fast, and I asked for a glass of water but they didn't hear me. After one hour a police jeep arrived and took me again to the checkpoint on the road, and there I encountered a foreign couple who took me to the hospital."
Ghanam said that at the hospital in Hebron he was diagnosed as suffering from two breaks in his nose and injuries to his shoulder and back. He was then released and sent home to rest.
"This is the first time that I have encountered this kind of violence." Two months ago he was detained for a few days over the allegation that he had thrown rocks at soldiers. "My pleas did not help, and I was detained for several days. We have reached an intolerable situation, and I hope that someone will come to their senses and do something to save us from this torture," he said.