IDF indicts officer for breaking Italian activist’s cameras
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IDF indicts officer for breaking Italian activist’s cameras

Lieutenant expected to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence of 22 days in prison

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Illustrative. An Israeli soldier attempting to block the view of a photographer as troops search Palestinian men in the West Bank city of Hebron on June 22, 2017. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)
Illustrative. An Israeli soldier attempting to block the view of a photographer as troops search Palestinian men in the West Bank city of Hebron on June 22, 2017. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Military prosecutors on Thursday filed an indictment against an Israel Defense Forces officer for breaking an Italian human rights activist’s cameras in the West Bank city of Hebron last year, the army said.

The officer, a lieutenant, was expected to plead guilty to the crime and serve a sentence of 22 days.

The indictment was an irregular move for the IDF, which normally seeks to avoid trials for such crimes by dealing with the issues as a disciplinary matter, rather than a criminal one.

In February 2017, the Paratroopers Brigade officer “broke the cameras of a foreign citizen with no operational justification,” according to the indictment.

“The behavior of the officer during the incident went against what was expected of IDF commanders and soldiers,” the army said in a statement.

The Italian national had been arrested earlier by IDF troops for taking part in a violent protest in Hebron, the military said.

The lieutenant was presented with the plea deal, under which he would admit his guilt and in exchange receive a reduced sentence. As of Thursday night, the plea deal had yet to be approved by the military court, but it was expected to be accepted within the coming days.

A still image taken from footage shot in the West Bank on September 25, 2015, shows an IDF soldier hurling a camera belonging to AFP reporters to the ground. (screen capture: YouTube)

In 2015, a group of IDF soldiers from the Givati Brigade assaulted two journalists from the AFP news agency in the northern West Bank, breaking their cameras.

The soldiers’ commanding officer was reprimanded after a disciplinary hearing, but the military opted to forgo criminal proceedings against the soldiers involved.

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