IDF soldiers charged with severly beating detained Palestinians
The two detainees suffered severe rib and nose fractures and needed urgent medical care after five soldiers from the IDF's Netzah Yehuda battalion violently abused them; Palestinian suspects were arrested on suspicion of aiding attacker who killed the soldiers' comrades.
The incident took place earlier this month during a manhunt for As'am Barghouti, who shot dead two soldiers from the Netzah Yehuda Battalion at the Giv'at Asaf outpost in the West Bank in December.
The two Palestinians were arrested on suspicion they helped Barghouti and his brother—who were also involved in a terror attack near Ofra Junction that left seven people wounded—evade capture.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said the five soldiers were charged with aggravated abuse and aggravated battery. The soldiers allegedly cursed, slapped, punched and hit the suspects with fists and blunt objects, targeting their heads as well as other body parts, while the two Palestinians were tied up and blindfolded. The soldiers also allegedly kicked the suspects in the groin and pulled on their hair.
As the suspects were being transported by the Netzah Yehuda troops, the vehicle passed the Giv'at Asaf Junction, where the two of the soldiers’ comrades—Sergeant Yosef Cohen and Staff Sergeant Yovel Mor Yosef—had been gunned down. This prompted the Nitzan Yehuda soldiers who were sitting in the back of the car with the detainees to start abusing them, while the platoon commander observed but did not interfere.
When a different IDF unit took custody over the detainees in order to transport them to the Shin Bet’s interrogation facility, they noticed the two Palestinians had been physically abused.
The indictment states that footage of the incident, filmed by one of the soldiers, shows the troops cheering as the suspects were being beaten. "At one point, the defendants removed the blindfold from one of the detainees, so he would see his friend being beaten, while the other soldiers were cheering,” the indictment says. “As a result, the two suspects needed urgent medical treatment and were later hospitalized at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem."
Once at the hospital, doctors found the two Palestinians had suffered severe rib and nose fractures.
Two of the soldiers are also accused of obstructing justice. One of the defendants tried to falsely claim he had trouble speaking Hebrew during his questioning, while another deleted several WhatsApp messages from his phone, which were deemed important to the investigation.
"This indictment should not have been filed to begin with, and we are confident that by the end of the trial all the details will be clarified and things will look differently," said the military defense attorney representing the soldiers. “These are outstanding soldiers, whose comrades were killed just a month prior, forced into a situation in which they had to carry out the arrest of those who murdered their comrades (sic) … the aspects related to their mental health should be taken into consideration.”
The Military Prosecution asked the court to extend the remand of the soldiers until the end of the legal proceedings against them.