Analysis |

Israeli Soldiers Who Beat Detained Palestinians Are Part of a Bigger Evil

Most moral army in the world? Keep tripping

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
A screenshot of a video shows an Israeli soldier (left) beating a bound Palestinian detainee. Their faces have been pixelated.
A screenshot of a video shows an Israeli soldier (left) beating a bound Palestinian detainee. Their faces have been pixelated.
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

The Netzah Yehuda soldiers convicted of beating up prisoners are not exceptions. What took place between Givat Assaf and Abu Shukhaydam occurs every night and it’s only the absence of documentation that prevents the expose of the pure evil on the part of the world’s most moral army.

>> Israeli court releases footage of soldiers beating detained Palestinians

The nausea and disgust are overwhelming, and then comes the anger and shame. All of it takes place very quickly. “Say hello, say it,” “It’s a celebration, you idiot,” “Goodbye forever.” The sounds of blows to the head, blow after blow, the father and sons’ moaning, the sounds of the helpless, the giggles of the abusers. The soldier taking the pictures so he would have something to show his buddies; the grotesque name of the battalion, Netzah Yehuda – Eternity of Judah – any satirist would be too ashamed to make it up. Maybe the name is to blame: Whoever gives this name to an occupation force, it’s as if he’s telling the troops: You can do whatever you would. You’re eternity.

It’s not Elor Azaria, there’s no death here, and it’s no less severe: The pure evil, sadistic enjoyment, the great sense of heroism over the weakest of the weak. Don’t try to tell us these soldiers were “upset,” they were having a delightful party. Don’t try to tell us these men are “fighters.” They are cowardly and miserable soldiers. Don’t try to tell us they aren’t animals, they are, even though there are very few in the animal kingdom who torture others just for the sake of it. Don’t try to tell us we sent children to the army and they return as animals – it’s doubtful that these children weren’t like this beforehand. They are disgusting. There are many like them in the occupation units. Such incidents happen often; only the video separates them from this publicized incident.

The story is the IDF. The story is the battalion commander who said after the abuse that he had sent his soldiers on an arrest mission “to end the cycle” and to “create a feeling of success among the fighters.” And nobody thought to dismiss him for those words. This story is such a scandal that even now the real face of evil has not been exposed, the faces of these soldiers, let’s see them for their eternal disgrace.

Disgrace? In the eyes of many Israelis they are heroes. If this isn’t a cover up for them then I don’t know what is. The story of the so painfully lenient plea bargain. The story is that even after the abuse they went through nobody thinks of releasing the victims, as a basic gesture of humanity.

And what about an apology and compensation? The IDF thinks you must be joking. This story ensures that in two years the abusers’ shame will be removed. The army dismisses officers for training accidents in which there isn’t a grain of ill intent, yet covers up such evil. Why? Because the victims are Arabs, not Jews.

It’s a celebration for the IDF because the IDF does everything to cover up what happened. It’s also a celebration for the collaborating media. Most Israeli media, which doesn’t cover the occupation and its horrors, is doing all it can to entertain its consumers rather than to trouble them. It’s a celebration for all those who think these incidents are exceptions to the rule, It’s a celebration for all those who think the problem is with the marginal youth of Netzah Yehuda, Kfir or the border police and don’t understand that everyone has a hand in it. From the pilots, through the sailors and all the way to 8200, it’s all rotten to the core with the blight of occupation.

One of the convicted soldiers being escorted to the extension of his imprisonment, January 2019.Credit: Moti Milrod

Next time you’re sitting at a café, look around you: Sitting nearby are abusers and perhaps a few murderers. It can’t be otherwise. Just like how in the territories there is no home whose sons haven’t gone through this, there aren’t a lot of Israeli cafes where none of the patrons haven't committed abuse. It’s in the high tech sector and the repair shop. They’ve all done it.

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