Four soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces’ battalion for ultra-Orthodox Jews were indicted Thursday for numerous instances of suspected abuse of Palestinian prisoners. In one incident, soldiers are accused of electrocuting a prisoner and filming the act on a cell phone.
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Initially, Military Police suspected three soldiers of one act of abuse, but during the investigation they found there were many other incidents and more than three soldiers involved. Additional indictments are expected on Sunday. The soldiers are all part of the IDF’s Netzah Yehuda battalion (better known as the Nahal Haredi battalion).
On the night of October 7, Netzah Yehuda soldiers arrested a Palestinian from the village of Safarin and took him to the military base where the battalion is stationed near Jenin. Once there, according to indictments issued Thursday, one soldier, A., beat the Palestinian along with others. A. kicked the prisoner, stepped on his legs and hit him on the head, all while the prisoner was blindfolded and handcuffed. A. filmed the incident with a cell phone. According to documents, other soldiers attached electrodes to the Palestinian’s neck and electrocuted him, even increasing the voltage as the prisoner begged them to stop. During questioning by military police, A. stated he was acting out of “rage over the wave of terror attacks.”
This was not the only recent case of abuse involving soldiers from the Haredi brigade. A week after the first incident, a Palestinian resident of Jaba was severely beaten after being arrested. One soldier, D., is accused of kicking the prisoner in the legs and head as other soldiers were taking him to the bathroom. A. is also accused of kicking D. while he was handcuffed and blindfolded. A few hours later, A. beat the detainee again, “unjustifiably,” according to military prosecutor Lt. Bar Sivan.
During the probe, investigators uncovered another incident in which a Palestinian prisoner was beaten by a Netzah Yehuda soldier. In an indictment issued against S., it was alleged that after a Palestinian from the village of Atil was arrested, he was severely beaten.
During a military court hearing regarding the four soldiers’ actions, it was decided to release two soldiers who had already been held for a week. Capt. Omer Knobler and Capt. Mor Yamin, one of the soldiers’ defense attorneys, claimed the charges against their client were baseless and praised the decision to release him.
Remands of the four indicted soldiers were extended until Sunday. Attorney Hay Haber, from the Honenu organization that is defending five soldiers involved in the abuse incidents, said, “After a long hearing about the evidence, it seems there is no incident to speak of, and certainly no abuse.
“We must remember that these are outstanding soldiers, without a criminal record, who certainly did not act violently or inappropriately toward Palestinian terrorists,” added Haber. “If there was some breach of protocol, instead of issuing indictments – which are a legal step with serious ramifications – it would have been better to clear up the issue by having them stand disciplinary trial. That would have been more balanced.”