The IDF court-martialed three soldiers from the Kfir Brigade on Sunday after they were seen in a video beating an unarmed Palestinian man during a clash over the weekend in the West Bank. It sentenced two soldiers to suspended prison sentences and ordered detention on base for a third.
Kfir Brigade commander Colonel Asher Ben-Lulu sentenced one soldier, who was seen cursing the Palestinian man, to 30 days detention on base. Two other soldiers, filmed beating up the man were given a suspended sentence of 28 days in a military jail. Their company commander was also reprimanded by Ben-Lulu.
The Israeli military had ordered an investigation into the beating by the group of soldiers during a confrontation last Friday in the Jalazoun refugee camp, near the West Bank town of Ramallah.
The investigation found that although the soldiers were justified in arresting the man for his aggressive behavior, which was allegedly aimed at provoking an altercation, the manner in which they detained him was incorrect.
The investigation found that the man in the video approached the soldiers “in an attempt to cause a provocation.” After he failed to heed the soldiers’ demands that he desist, and touched the rifle of one of the IDF commanders at the scene, the decision was taken “to use force to arrest him.” The army initially said that the man had tried to grab the rifle.
“The manner in which one of the soldiers expressed himself was incompatible with IDF values and the behavior expected of IDF soldiers,” the investigation concluded.
In a video of the 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 sprawled on the ground.
According to Palestinian sources quoted by the Ynet news site, 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.
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.
Itamar Sharon contributed to this report.