Israeli Army Officer Indicted for Allowing Soldiers to Beat Detained Palestinians

Indictment says commander 'noticed his soldiers enacting harsh violence against the Palestinian detainees, as they were handcuffed and blindfolded, and despite this did not prevent them from continuing to beat them'

File Photo: One of the IDF soldiers suspected of abuse of Palestinians in military court, January 2019.
Moti Milrod

An Israeli army officer was indicted for failing to prevent soldiers under his command from beating two detained Palestinians, Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson's Unit said on Sunday.

Five Israeli soldiers were charged last month with the abuse and aggravated assault of two Palestinians in their custody, a father and his son.

According to the indictment, the officer has been charged with failure to prevent a crime, negligently causing injury and unbecoming conduct.

>> Palestinian father and son abused by Israeli soldiers: 'They beat us up, then started dancing'

"The commander noticed his soldiers enacting harsh violence against the Palestinian detainees, as they were handcuffed and blindfolded, and despite this did not prevent them from continuing to beat them," said the indictment.

The officer was suspended from duty following the incident.

Last week, parts of the detainees' testimonies were published by Israeli news media.

The son, 15, testified that he was beaten by four soldiers in the face, chest, stomach and legs. "They hit my knee with the gun barrel and my chest, knees, thighs and groin with the butt end… I couldn't open my left eye. My mouth was full of blood and my shirt was soiled as well. I also bled from my nose."

'Human animals'

On Saturday, Israeli right-wing politicians harshly criticized Channel 13 TV anchorwoman Oshrat Kotler for saying soldiers become "human animals" during their army service in the West Bank. Kotler was responding to a report on the soldiers' indictment.

"They send children to the army, to the territories, and get them back human animals. That’s the result of the occupation," she said.

The statement sparked the ire of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who tweeted: “Proud of IDF soldiers and love them very much. Oshrat Kotler’s words should be roundly condemned.” Netanyahu addressed the topic again during the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, saying, "The journalist's words deserve all condemnation."

Education Minister Naftali Bennett wrote: “Oshrat, you’re confused. IDF soldiers give their lives so you can sleep peacefully. Human animals are the terrorists who murder children in their beds, a young girl on a walk or a whole family driving on the road. IDF soldiers are our strength. Our children. Apologize.”

Bennett's new party, Hayamin Hehadash, tweeted it would file an official request to the attorney general that he prosecute Kotler for defamation, "following her affronting comments which slander IDF soldiers."

Kotler, who realized during the broadcast that her statement sparked a storm, said later in the show: “I would like to stress: my children, and their friends, they’re all combat soldiers in the territories. My criticism was directed only at those soldiers led by our control over the Palestinians to hurt innocent people. Those who really listened and didn’t run to rail against me on the web understood that I'm in fact in favor of leniency toward the indicted soldiers, because we sent them into this impossible situation.”