VIDEO - The incident in which an IDF soldier fired rubber bullets at a bound Palestinian who had been arrested in Naalin reached the Investigating Military Police (IMP) only after the military advocate general watched the documentation of the incident, despite the fact that it was witnessed by an Armored Corps regiment commander and several other soldiers in the vicinity.
Military officials told Ynet that the firing soldier had been arrested. According to one source, "he was questioned a short while after the incident, but only today, after the military advocate general watched the video tape, a criminal investigation was launched."
Immediately after the incident an inquiry was made by the brigade commander responsible. Commander of the Judea and Samaria division, Brig.-Gen. Noam Tivon, also conducted an investigation into the matter.
IDF sources refused to comment on the words spoken before and after the shooting by the firing soldier and the regiment commander who held the Palestinian man's arm, as the affair is still being investigated.
The regiment commander will undergo questioning in the near future, as well as the other soldiers who were present at the scene.
"During the demonstration the soldiers caught me, arrested me – and after a few moments I heard shots and felt a fire in my body. I was afraid and didn't know what it was," Abu-Rahma said. The shots were fired while the officer was holding the Palestinian's arm.
'Not a rare incident'
Left-wing representatives active in the Naalin protests responded to the publication of the tape by saying that this was not a rare incident. "The incident you have witnessed is not at all rare; it appears rare because it was filmed, but during protests we are forced to deal with this kind of behavior on a daily basis," said Aahad Khawaja, chairman of Naalin's anti-fence committee.
"I have been beaten and shot with tear gas in a direct manner while I was holding a 9-year old boy. I have seen them beating and shooting at an Israeli and later attacking him and beating him with clubs after he had fallen," he continued.
Jonathan Polk, who frequents anti-fence rallies, claims that the violent acts committed by IDF soldiers have become methodical. "It's a method of violence that is launched at protestors in a brutal and excessive fashion, and most of the time the violent suppression is led by the officers at the scene," he said.
Polk claims that the story only received coverage by the media because of the tape documenting it. "Usually the behavior is similar. We cry out that the army is using excessive violence and this time it has been proven on tape. I am not claiming that the protestors don't throw stones but I do claim that in 90% of cases the army is the first to open fire at the protestors, even when they do not constitute an impediment to the construction of the fence."
Following the initial investigations no steps were taken against the soldier, but after the tape was made public the IDF acted quickly.
The IDF Spokesperson's Office stated that "this is a very serious and unlawful incident that negates the values of the IDF, in which firing as a means for the scattering of protests (not 'live' fire) was used against a Palestinian detainee, who had been arrested by our forces, after he had taken part in a violent demonstration against the construction of the separation fence in the village of Naalin.
"The army's code strictly prohibits the injuring of detainees and requires the soldiers to maintain respect for them and the wholeness of their bodies. Incidents of injured detainees are transferred, according to IDF policies, to the IMP to be investigated. In this case, following the transfer of the tape, Military Advocate General Brig.-Gen. Avihai Mandelblit has ordered the IMP to launch an investigation into the matter."
Efrat Weiss contributed to this report