Army chief: No more beating Palestinians
Statement follows testimony by IDF colonel who said ok to hit Palestinians in 'exceptional circumstances'.
In an appearance Tuesday before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi stated that there was an absolute IDF prohibition against beating West Bank civilians in the course of their arrest. Ashkenazi's Knesset appearance follows testimony in military court by the commander of the Kfir infantry brigade, Col. Itai Virob, in which Virob justified hitting Palestinian prisoners under exceptional circumstances. The commander was testifying in the case of 1st Lt. Adam Malul of the Kfir infantry brigade, who was accused of hitting a Palestinian during an arrest on the West Bank.
"I will not tolerate any lack of clarity on this," Ashkenazi told the Knesset committee. "IDF soldiers are not permitted to beat prisoners." Ashkenazi had been asked to clarify his position in response to a question by MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union).
In his Knesset testimony, Ashkenazi stated that "The Kfir Brigade does very important work and finds itself in constant friction with terrorist elements in Judea and Samaria. Without diminishing [this role], there was a need to put matters straight following the testimony of the brigade commander, without harming legal proceedings. There was a need to review the permissible limits and prohibitions because, following [Virob's] testimony, there was concern that soldiers and commanders would be confused."
Ashkenazi added that he demands that soldiers not only conduct themselves according to the law but also according to ethical standards. "I am stating unequivocally," he said, "IDF soldiers are prohibited from beating civilians after arrest, whether they are Jews or Arabs."
As was reported in Haaretz, Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit is considering additional measures against Virob, including a possible criminal investigation and trial. A decision on the matter is being deferred until the end of the case against Malul.