Soldier guilty of forcing Palestinian to drive him

A military court convicts a soldier from the Golani Brigade who admitted for abusing his authority when he forced a Palestinian to drive him, threatening the man at gunpoint.

The soldier will serve 4.5 months in a military prison after admitting his guilt under a plea bargain. He will also be demoted from the rank of sergeant to the rank of private and pay the complainant NIS 5,400 (c. $1,400) in compensation.

The complainant is Palestinian Yasser Odeh, who was stopped by the soldier while driving on a road leading to Yitzhar. The soldier examined the vehicle’s trunk and backseat, as if conducting a standard security check, but then entered the car, aimed his gun, which was cocked and loaded, at Odeh, and instructed him to drive to Yitzhar.

At some point Odeh saw a bus passing by and called to the driver, saying he has been kidnapped by the soldier, but the soldier ordered him to shut up and to continue driving. Odeh swerved into a ditch by the side of the road and escaped on foot.

Emily Sheffer Omer-Man, a lawyer with the organization Yesh Din which represented Odeh, says “This is a severe and shocking incident, and one may hope that convicting the soldier who threatened Mr. Odeh with his gun will deter other security force officials from behaving similarly toward the Palestinian population. Regretfully, it is rare that indictments are served against soldiers even when they commit transgressions much worse than this one against Palestinians.”

According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Office, in 2013 only 2.2 percent of Military Police investigations ended with indictments.

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