Israeli Soldiers From ultra-Orthodox Unit Arrested for Abusing Palestinian Prisoner

Seven combat soldiers from Netzah Yehuda battalion face military court for violence.

Tal Cohen

Three Israel Defense Forces combat soldiers from the Netzah Yehuda battalion (better known as the Nahal Haredi battalion) are suspected of beating a Palestinian detained during operations in the Jenin area recently. The Military Police suspect the three soldiers bashed the Palestinian’s head into a wall and beat him in the face.

The soldiers reported that after they led the prisoner to the bathroom, he refused to walk and they then used “reasonable force” against him. Three soldiers are suspected of being involved in the violence, and four others were also arrested after Military Police investigators suspected that they were involved in other acts of violence against Palestinians.

One of the seven soldiers was released, but remains under “open arrest” on the battalion’s base in the Jenin area. The other six suspects are still being held, and it is expected that indictments will be filed against them Thursday in the Military Court in Jaffa.

The soldiers are being represented by the rightist Honenu legal defense organization. According to its website, Honenu defends civilians and soldiers “who find themselves in legal entanglements due to defending themselves against Arab aggression, or due to their love for Israel.”

One of soldiers denied all the charges. Hay Haber, a lawyer for Honenu who is representing two of the soldiers, said this was a libel created by the Palestinian, who caused the injuries himself, which is backed by the soldiers’ testimonies.

“It’s a shame that the military authorities have chosen at this time during which the security forces in general, and IDF soldiers in particular, are working day and night in order to restore security to civilians, and instead of giving them freedom of action and the minimal backing needed, these same combat soldiers have found themselves arrested and forced to deal with the baseless claims of a terrorist,” said Haber.

A source in the IDF said that the Military Police have discovered serious suspicions of harsh abuse of the prisoner.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office said: “This is a serious incident that does not meet the standards expected from IDF soldiers. The incident was investigated by the unit’s commanders and is now under Military Police investigation.”