Three Israeli Soldiers Convicted of Abusing Palestinian Detainees

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One of the soldiers being taken into his detention, January, 2018.
One of the soldiers being taken into his detention, January, 2018. Credit: Motti Milrod

Three Israeli soldiers were convicted in military court on Thursday of aggravated abuse of two Palestinian detainees, a father and a son, in January. Their sentencing will take place on Tuesday.

The conviction was reached as part of a plea agreement with the soldiers from the Netzah Yehuda battalion, a male-only ultra-Orthodox unit which allows soldiers to serve in the army while observing religious customs.  

According to the indictment, the Palestinians had been detained on January 8 on suspicion of aiding the terrorist who committed an attack near the West Bank outpost of Givat Assaf in December. The Palestinian suspects had not been directly involved in planning or carrying out the attack in which two members of the Netzah Yehuda battalion, who were friends, of the defendants were killed.

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After the arrest of the father and son, the soldiers punched and kicked the two, who were handcuffed and blindfolded, and hit them with their weapons, causing severe wounds.

The three defendants and two other soldiers from the battalion were charged with aggravated abuse and of inflicting serious injury on the detainees under aggravated circumstances. One detainee’s injuries were so serious that investigators could not question him immediately following the incident. The two Palestinians were taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, where one of them remained in the hospital for three days.

Two of the soldiers are also accused of obstruction of justice, after they coordinated their testimonies. The military prosecution sought to extend the detention of defendants until the end of legal proceedings. The soldiers' commander is suspected of having failed to stop the abuse, and was under the military equivalent of a house arrest.

The battalion officer was also indicted on February 17 for failing to prevent the abuse. According to the indictment, the officer has been charged with failure to prevent a crime, negligently causing injury and unbecoming conduct.

In addition the military police investigated the soldier who filmed the abuse in a two minute clip. The soldier at first denied having anything to do with the video, and then admitted that he filmed it and said: "It's not a nice situation, it's even shameful. It's a shameful video. If someone had filmed me doing this, I would have stopped immediately. I filmed them so they would stop." According to him, the abuse was halted in time and there was nothing excessive about it.

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