The father of one of four soldiers who posted photos of themselves posing with bound and blindfolded Palestinians called them "the best men we have" Thursday at a court hearing, while their attorney said the army was treating them harshly for the sake of global opinion.
"World opinion doesn't interest me; they are our best soldiers," the father said.
The four Nahal Haredi soldiers of the Netzach Yehuda Battalion are believed to have taken the photos with their cellular phones, where they were recently found.
This followed a wave of anti-Israel sentiment regarding similar pictures posted by former IDF soldier Eden Abergil on Facebook.
"My son is in custody, but not for drugs or for going on an unauthorized leave," one of the soldier's mothers said at court. "I have another son in Sayeret Golani, but why should he continue there? Who will protect us if not them? We hand them over to the State because of our values."
The parents of a soldier suspected of abusing a bound Palestinian were also present at court and hurled curses at photojournalists.
"No one should serve in combat anymore," said another mother. "Why are they on the Palestinians side and not on our side?"
The military prosecution said at an earlier hearing that the soldiers deserved to be punished for harming Israel's global reputation.
"The true significance of the case and the arrests must be examined in relation to the times in which we live," the prosecutor said. "We are being scrutinized at a time where we as an army and country are living under a type of moral blockade following the Goldstone Report and the Marmara affair."
Attorney Shlomi Tzipori, who represents one of the soldiers, said it appeared the IDF was acting "hysterically".
"This is a soldier who arrested a Hamas suspect for the first time, and he was excited and wanted to document the occasion. Unlike the soldier who published the photos on Facebook, they kept the pictures in their cameras. We must recognize that this occurred eight months ago, and my client has been in custody for 14 days," he added.
The attorney said the IDF was handling the case harshly for the sake of appearances.
"The current attitude is that if the IDF handles its soldiers severely then everything will be solved and UN decisions against Israel will be canceled," he said.
"But the soldiers should not be turned into criminals. No one abused anyone or intended to do so," he said. "The Palestinian detainee never complained and did not feel he was harmed – he never even saw what happened. This is not the proper way to educate soldiers."
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