Military Advocate General Avichai Mandelblit on Sunday ordered a military police investigation into Colonel Itai Virob, former Kfir Brigade commander, and Lieutenant Colonel Shimon Harosh, former commander of the Shimshon regiment.
The order comes after they had testified in a military court a year ago, saying it was permissible to use moderate violence against Palestinians during questioning.
During the court hearing Virob used words such as "slaps," "kneeing" and "choking to calm things down." Harosh said that slapping is reasonable in such cases.
The two officers tried to tone down their testimonies, and when they appeared a second time they noted that what they had said had been misunderstood.
This unusual investigation is beginning only now because the trial of Lieutenant Adam Malul was underway, preventing the advocate general from ordering the probe. His position was that only after all testimony has been given in Malul's trial would it be possible to decide on a course of action against the senior officers.
The affair, exposed by Ynet, involves the trial of Malul and paramedic Sergeant A. for violence against Palestinians during operations in September 2008. The case continues to cause shockwaves in Central Command and in the IDF in general.
After Virob and Harosh appeared in court, the NGO Yesh Din requested that the military advocate general open an investigation into the two. The investigation is expected to focus on what they said in court, though it is not yet clear what they are suspected of doing.
Central Command officers said that the testimonies reveal the problematic nature of operations in the territories.
"With all due respect to protocols and the desire to maintain sterile operating procedures, we have to remember that the soldiers face Palestinians who do all they can to prevent us from fulfilling our mission," they said.
Yesh Din and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel welcomed the decision to open an investigation, but expressed regret that it had happened so late.