Ten combat soldiers suspected of beating and injuring a comrade were charged with aggravated assault and conduct unbecoming on Thursday.
Some of the troops, all of whom belong to the IDF's Kfir Brigade, are to remain in police custody until the completion of trial, while the rest are to be released next week. They are being tried at a military court in Jaffa.
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The victim, a rookie soldier, was attacked for daring to touch the "seniority stick" – a bar with special markings which indicate the seniority of combatants who are soon to be discharged.
According to the indictment, one of the defendants threatened the victim days prior to the attack. "I love you, but you'll pay for this," the defendant was quoted as telling the victim after the latter made the so-called misstep.
Defendants at court (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
On August 2, the same soldier approached the victim and ordered him to report to the patrol unit's living quarters, where all ten of the defendants were waiting. There the rookie was told that the group is about to decide on a punishment that will be inflicted upon him for touching the forbidden rod. After a short deliberation, the troops began punching him, causing him to collapse.
When a knock sounded at the door, the assailants ordered the victim to get up, but he couldn't. They pulled him up and continued to beat him. When another soldier entered the room, they urged him to punch the rookie as well; he initially refused but later relented.
A beating, a hug and a present
The soldiers took turns striking the victim, and when they were done, they hugged him and gave him a present – an iPhone case – as a reward for taking the penalty.
The rookie managed to get up and reach his room, but failed to climb up to his top bunk. The following morning, when he got up to report for patrol duty, he fell unconscious. He was taken to the Haemek Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with a ruptured spleen.
Shai Roda, one of the suspects' attorneys, claimed that his client's role in the violent incident was negligible.
"He is an excellent soldier who gave his all," Roda said. "He chose to contribute to the state over helping his family."
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