The Palestinian man whom the spokesman for Breaking the Silence claims to have assaulted confirmed in a television interview Tuesday that he was beaten up by Israeli soldiers, but said he could not identify Dean Issacharoff as his assailant.
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“The soldiers beat me, with their hands and their feet; they attacked me and those with me,” Faisal el-Natche told the Israel Television News Company, formerly Channel 2.
After Issacharoff said in April that he beat a Palestinian man whom he arrested during army reserve duty in Hebron in 2014, police began investigating.
Last week prosecutors closed the case, saying they had determined that Issacharoff lied and that no assault occurred. They said it reached this conclusion after interviewing the alleged victim, Hassan Julani, who told them no violence was used in his arrest.
Issacharoff accused the police of interviewing the wrong Palestinian man, and on Monday Breaking the Silence released a video from the original incident showing Issacharoff leading Natche, in handcuffs and with what appeared to be facial injuries. The clip did not show the assault that ostensibly preceded this scene.
The news company reporter asked Natche if he could identify Issacharoff as the solder who beat him, Natche replied, “I don’t remember who beat me. If I saw him, I wouldn’t remember him.”
Asked whether police had questioned him as part of their investigation of Issacharoff, Natche said he was not contacted or questioned in the past several months.
In a written response to the TV interview, the State Prosecutor’s Office said: “We are not familiar with the incident cited, and on the face of it, it doesn’t fit the incident that Issacharoff described when he was questioned. Issacharoff described a case in which the detainee refused to be handcuffed after he was arrested, so Issacharoff was asked by the company commander to cuff him,” the statement continued.
“Then — according to his story – [Issacharoff] and [Issacharoff] alone hit the detainee until he passed out and bled. In contrast, [Natche] describes a situation in which — according to his story — he was beaten by a group of masked soldiers. It’s clear that there’s no connection between these cases.
“In general, any information submitted to the law enforcement agencies which reveals a prima facie suspicion that a crime was committee justifies considering the possibility of opening an investigation,” the statement of the State Prosecutor’s Office concluded. “And that also goes for the current incident.”
The Palestinian man who says he recorded the video issued by Breaking the Silence on Monday backed Natche’s story that he was beaten. “I saw them hitting Palestinians,” Shadi Sidr told Channel 10 television on Tuesday. “It happened quickly, so I wasn’t able to film it.”
“Incidents like this happen all the time in our region,” he added. “The army attacks all the time. There are cameras on every corner, on every wall, because the camera is the only tool we have against this occupation.”
Breaking the Silence obtained Sidr’s video from another organization, B’Tselem.
According to sources in Breaking the Silence, the video also shows that a deputy company commander who confirmed Issacharoff’s story was present at the scene. In contrast, although several other soldiers in the company denied Issacharoff’s story, none of them can be seen in the clip, the sources said. Moreover, they said, the video shows a different company commander than the one the police interviewed, who also denied Issacharoff’s story.