The Israel Defense Forces prosecutor has reached a plea agreement with an army officer who was caught on camera last year striking a Danish pro-Palestinian activist with a rifle.
In April 2012, Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner, the former deputy commander of the Jordan Valley Brigade, was filmed hitting the activist. According to the agreement, he will be charged with the lesser offenses of deviating from authority to the point of endangering life or health, and inappropriate behavior. He is expected to complete his service in the IDF in another year and a half, when he reaches 43 years of age. He will also perform military community service, the location of which will be determined later on by the military court.
According to the indictment served against Lt. Col. Eisner, in April 2012, near the Palestinian village of Ouja in the Jordan Valley, he struck, with his weapon and with his hands, five foreign and Palestinian activists who were participating in a bicycle trek that had not received a permit from the IDF.
The plea agreement, which was reported by Channel 2, has not yet received approval from the special military court at the IDF headquarters. The court is expected to give this permission after the holidays.
In response to the indictment, Col. Halperin, who together with attorney Capt. Adi Eisner is representing Eisner, said, “Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner has served as a combat soldier and officer in the IDF for more than 20 years, and devoted his whole adult life to the security of Israel’s residents. Lt. Col. Eisner takes full responsibility for the act with which he is charged in the indictment. He has paid a price for his action at the command level as well as at the legal level, and still continues, and will continue, to work faithfully for the country’s security.”
In videos documenting the incident on Saturday, April 14, 2012, Eisner is seen striking one of the activists in the face with his M-16 rifle. The videos, which were published the day after the incident, caused great uproar. Three days after they were published, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz dismissed Eisner from his position. GOC Central Command Maj. Gan. Nitzan Alon, together with head of the Ground Forces at the time, Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman, notified Lt. Col. Eisner of the decision, explaining that they felt the incident had involved a “moral failure.”
Then, Eisner was relegated to a non-command position as part of a disciplinary procedure, and the IDF’s criminal investigation division began a criminal probe of the case. Eisner was transferred to a staff position at the ground forces training center at the Tze’elim army base. According to the terms of the original disciplinary action, he would have been able to return to a command position in the IDF beginning next year. However, under the terms of the plea agreement that Eisner’s attorneys reached with the military prosecutor, Eisner will be discharged from the IDF.