IDF to indict 5 soldiers for beating bound and blindfolded Palestinian suspects

IDF to indict 5 soldiers for beating bound and blindfolded Palestinian suspects

Servicemen, one of them an officer, believed to have attacked detainees as revenge for terror attack that killed two of their comrades

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

Illustrative: An IDF soldier sits in a military court. (Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)
Illustrative: An IDF soldier sits in a military court. (Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)

The Israeli military on said Sunday that it plans to indict five soldiers suspected of beating two Palestinian detainees last month, seriously injuring them.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the soldiers are believed to have attacked the two suspects “when they were handcuffed and blindfolded.” The two had been arrested in a raid conducted as part of a search for a terrorist who had killed two of the servicemen’s comrades in a shooting attack outside the Givat Assaf outpost in the central West Bank.

The IDF said the Palestinian detainees sustained serious injuries in the attack.

The soldiers are believed to have beaten the two Palestinian men, who were suspected of aiding the terrorist in his escape, as a form of revenge for the attack that killed their comrades.

In addition to being suspected of aggravated abuse and aggravated assault, some of them are expected to be charged with obstruction of justice.

The obstruction charge appears to be tied to attempts to hide footage filmed by one of the soldiers, which reportedly shows the servicemen kicking and punching the Palestinian suspects.

The offenses can carry heavy prison sentences if the soldiers are found guilty.

The soldiers’ platoon commander was also arrested in connection with the alleged abuse. He is not suspected of actively taking part in the beatings, but is believed to have failed to stop them. His case is being handled separately, and he was scheduled to appear before a judge later on Sunday.

When military prosecutors file their indictment on Sunday, they will also request the soldiers be kept in jail through the end of the trial, the army said.

The soldiers involved all serve in the Kfir Brigade’s religious Netzah Yehuda Battalion.

Soldiers in the Netzah Yehuda Battalion, which operates in the West Bank, have been at the center of several controversies connected to right-wing extremists and Palestinians, especially of late.

Last month, two members of the battalion were dismissed from duty after they fought with a group of Border Police officers who had arrested civilian friends of theirs for throwing rocks at Palestinian homes in Ramallah.

Also in December, the Military Police launched an investigation into the actions of Netzah Yehuda soldiers who shot dead an East Jerusalem man they said tried to ram them with his car at a West Bank checkpoint. An initial investigation into the incident found that no such ramming attempt had occurred.

In 2016, a soldier from the battalion was sentenced to 21 days in military prison for taking part in what was called the “hate wedding,” in which extremists celebrated the murder of a Palestinian toddler several months earlier.

Soldiers from the battalion have also been convicted in the past of torturing and abusing Palestinian prisoners.

The battalion was created so that ultra-Orthodox and other religious soldiers can serve without feeling they are compromising their beliefs. The soldiers do not interact with female troops to the same extent as other servicemen and are given additional time for prayer and study.

Michael Bachner contributed to this report.

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