Eighty-three reservist officers and soldiers who served under the lieutenant colonel who was videotaped
striking a Danish pro-Palestinian activist with an M-16 rifle, sent a letter addressed to IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz
and Defense Minister Ehud Barak
in which they expressed "support and appreciation" for their "moral and ethical commander."
The combatants said that throughout his military career, Shalom Eisner has "safeguarded the values and spirit of the IDF"
and "was highly sensitive to his soldiers' needs." This sensitivity, they said, was also displayed when Eisner "came to the aid of a pregnant Palestinian woman on the Jordan Valley Highway."
The combatants further wrote, "We are convinced that you will take (Eisner's) many achievements into consideration when you discuss which measures will be taken against him."
'Hypocritical condemnations.' Eisner (L) and activist (Photo: AFP)
Lt.-Col. Eisner was interrogated by Military Police investigators for the first time Monday evening, was suspended on Sunday from his duty as deputy commander of the Jordan Valley Territorial Brigade.
Denmark demanded clarifications on Saturday's incident, which was condemned by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
President Shimon Peres and army chief Gantz.
An initial investigation into the incident revealed that Eisner opted not to use crowd dispersing means against the group of Palestinian and foreign bicyclists, who, according to the IDF officer, planned to block Route 90 in the Jordan Valley to protest against restrictions on Palestinian movement in the area. Eisner told his commanders that the activists assaulted and injured him, but admitted he should not have resorted to violence.
The Palestinian who documented the incident told Ynet that the Danish activist, Andreas Ias, did not attack Eisner, as the latter claims. "The activist was standing in place when the officer suddenly approached him and struck him with a rifle," the cameraman said. "I am willing to submit all of the footage to whoever investigates the incident and reveals the truth."
Dov Lior, a prominent rightist rabbi, said the "hypocritical condemnations" of the incident are meant to "appease the nations of the world. Thus, they serve our enemies at home and abroad and deal a severe blow to the IDF."