The Israeli military said Saturday it was investigating the beating of an unarmed Palestinian man by a group of soldiers during a confrontation a day earlier in the Jalazoun refugee camp, near the West Bank town of Ramallah.
In a video of Friday’s incident posted online by Palestine TV, the Palestinian man is seen being repeatedly hit by soldiers, including one soldier who strikes him near the back of the head with the butt of his rifle and another who punches him in the face as he lies helpless on the ground.
The man is initially seen arguing with soldiers, when one of them begins screaming obscenities at him and proceeds to attack and hit him. The man does not back down and scuffles with the troops, and the same soldier then threatens him while continuing to hit him: “One more word and I’ll f*** your mother! One word! Well, talk!”
The video then cuts to the man being surrounded and hit by a group of soldiers. While being restrained by three soldiers, he is hit by a fourth with the butt of a rifle, causing him to fall to the ground. It is unclear in the video whether he is struck in the upper back, the neck or the head. He is then punched in the face by another soldier while on the ground, before his face is pushed into the dirt while the troops appear to cuff him. Later the man is seen being led away by the soldiers.
According to Palestinian sources quoted by Ynet News, the man confronted the army forces due to his anger over his home being used by troops to take cover from stone-throwers, and his family being hit by tear gas.
The army said Saturday it was aware of the incident and was carrying out a thorough investigation of its circumstances, with military sources telling Walla News that soldiers had not reported the violence to their superiors before the video surfaced.
“Those involved will be brought before the brigade commander tomorrow for a continuing inquiry and investigation, and disciplinary action will be taken against them if need be,” the army said in a statement. “According to an initial investigation, it seems the (soldiers’) behavior was inconsistent with that which is expected of IDF soldiers.”
Meanwhile soldiers who bore witness to the incident told Channel 2 anonymously that the man had provoked the soldiers, swore at them and even “attempted to snatch their weapons.”
An unidentified senior military source told Channel 2 the scene of the incident often saw violent rallies and called the man in the video a regular provocateur. Though he did not defend the soldiers’ actions, he maintained that they were not without cause.
In the video, soldiers at the scene are seen being pelted with rocks by Palestinian demonstrators. It is unclear whether the rock-throwing began before or after the beating of the Palestinian man.
The military said soldiers were attacked by some 50-70 rock throwers in the demonstration at the camp and that one soldier was lightly wounded. The troops used crowd-dispersal means to break up the protest.
Meanwhile, Israel Defense Forces troops on the border of the Gaza Strip shot and wounded a Palestinian man who approached the border fence and did not stop despite warning shots fired in the air, the army said Saturday. The man was shot in the legs and was evacuated by the military to a hospital in Beersheba for medical treatment.