An Israeli soldier intervened to help a Palestinian man in the West Bank City of Hebron flee a group of young Jewish men who were assaulting him on Friday night, according to video footage.
The incident occurred during a violent confrontation in Hebron between Palestinians and Jews, the army said.
In the video, a group of Israelis can be seen attacking the man, later identified as Ibrahim Bader, with one of them putting him in a headlock as others hit and kick him.
A Golani Brigade soldier then runs toward the group, pushing one of the Israelis aside and trying to help Bader out of the headlock. The soldier then appears to be hit by the man he pushed, who he then briefly confronts.
The soldier then turns back to Bader, telling the man administering the headlock “to leave him,” which he does.
As the soldier escorts Bader to safety, some of the Israelis run after them. A number of them try to strike Bader, while the soldier continues to try to distance him from the group.
In a tweet Saturday evening, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that according to reports of the event in military channels, the soldier “behaved as is expected of any soldier.”
He added: “The IDF is committed to the safety of civilians anywhere it operates.”
Watch: An Israeli soldier rescues a Palestinian guy who was brutally attacked last night by a group of religious Israeli youths in the Old City of Hebron pic.twitter.com/O7zcjnekHy
— Elior Levy • אליאור לוי (@eliorlevy) June 13, 2020
Bader later told Kan news he wished to “thank the soldier who helped me and kept them away from me.
“The army needs to make sure they don’t attack someone else. These settlers need to be stopped,” he said.
“God sent him” to save my life, Bader told Channel 12, stressing that the attack on him was unprovoked.
Bader, a 31-year-old security guard and father of three, said he was on his was to work when he was attacked.
Human Rights Defenders, the Palestinian group that released the video Saturday, said the incident occurred on Shuhada Street in the Israeli-controlled part of the city.
A statement from the army said: “During the night there was friction between Israelis and Palestinians in Hebron that included the throwing of rocks and Molotov cocktails. IDF soldiers that arrived at the scene dispersed the violent gathering.” It did not elaborate further.
Security sources said the Israelis were residents of Jewish neighborhoods in Hebron and police had taken over handling of the incident, Channel 12 news reported.
There were also four other suspected violent incidents in the city overnight, with the tires of Palestinian-owned vehicles punctured and several rock-throwing incidents, according to the Ynet news site.
Hebron, which is split into areas of Israeli and Palestinian Authority rule, has long been a flashpoint for violence.