An Israel Defense Forces officer will serve 60 days in prison before being discharged from the army after soldiers under his command beat detained Palestinians, a military court ruled on Thursday. He will also be demoted in rank from first lieutenant to private. The officer was convicted in a plea deal of aggravated assault and improper conduct.
The military said the officer was convicted because he failed to fulfill his duty to prevent or stop the soldiers' violence. The indictment against him stated that he had seen that the soldiers were using severe violence against Palestinian detainees while they were handcuffed and blindfolded, yet allowed them to continue.
All the soldiers involved belonged to Netzah Yehuda, an all-male ultra-Orthodox unit that allows soldiers to serve in the army while strictly observing religious customs.
The five soldiers who beat the two detainees were convicted in a plea deal in March. One was convicted of aggravated abuse and sentenced to five and a half months in jail. Another, whose participation was described as "relatively minor," was sentenced to two months. They were both demoted. Three others were convicted of abusing the detainees and each sentenced to six months in prison as well as receiving demotions.
The detainees, a father and son, described the abuse to investigators. 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."
He added that suffered verbal abuse as well. "One of the soldiers asked me to say 'In spirit, in blood, we will redeem Palestine' while I watched him beat up my father. The soldier told me 'Look at your dad. He deserves to be beaten. You think you're patriotic.'"
The father testified that he was cursed at and hit with a belt. "When I asked them why they were beating me, they hit me with the butt end of their weapons and one of the soldiers stepped on my face and broke my nose. I bled profusely and wasn't allowed to speak. I shouted at them but they told me to shut up. I was then hit in the face and lost consciousness."
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