Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner, the IDF officer who was suspended for striking a pro-Palestinian protester from Denmark with an M-16 rifle, said in a conversation with a supporter that he never put "anyone's life in danger."
"What's more important, fulfilling the task or looking good for the camera?" he said in a chat that was broadcast on Channel 10 News. "I am familiar with these anarchists' history. They came with sticks and broke my hand, but no one talks about that or films that. It's true; some of the pictures look bad. I used my weapon coldly, like a stick. I didn't kill anyone, and didn't put anyone's life at risk."
Eisner and wife leave Jerusalem hospital Tuesday (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The altercation occurred Saturday when dozens of foreign activists and Palestinians on bicycles and on foot left Yitav, located near the Palestinian village of Ouja, and headed towards join Route 90, a major north-south artery. Access to the road was blocked by a group of IDF soldiers.
Eisner and activist during Saturday's altercation (Photo: Saad Najum)
The activists said they sang and chanted peacefully for about half an hour, then decided to march toward the soldiers in an effort to reach Route 90. That is when Colonel Eisner became violent, they said.
"I believe the protesters themselves said after the incident that they cut the rally short and decided not to block the road only because of the way I handled the situation. But all these stories do not interest our chief of staff (Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz) or the head of my command (GOC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon)," Eisner said. "I believe that completing the mission is more important than looking good for the camera, but they (his commanding officers) claim it isn't.
"I told (162nd Division Commander Brig. Gen. Agai Yehezkel) that in no way do I accept the claim that my conduct constituted as moral failure," he added.
The officer said the damage caused to the image of the IDF and Israel would have been greater had he not acted with resolve against the demonstrators: "Would it have been better if they had filmed IDF soldiers caving in to a rioting gang? The brigadier general did not even understand the significance of anarchists breaking the arm of a lieutenant colonel in the army. No one did."
Some of the soldiers who witnessed the incident said the foreign activists had assaulted Eisner and even hurled a bicycle at him. However, other soldiers told Ynet they did not see their commander being attacked with sticks, as he claimed.
Eisner was examined at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem Tuesday evening after he complained of wrist pain.
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