Soldier jailed for placing snake inside Palestinian’s car at checkpoint

IDF sentences soldier to 18 days in prison, at the conclusion of which his continued service as a combat fighter will be examined

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

A snake that a soldier at an IDF checkpoint placed inside a Palestinian car in December 2019 (Nidal Sa'eed)
A snake that a soldier at an IDF checkpoint placed inside a Palestinian car in December 2019 (Nidal Sa'eed)

The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday said that it had disciplined a soldier who placed a snake inside the vehicle of a Palestinian at a northern West Bank checkpoint.

The incident took place during a routine security check on December 23, during which a soldier placed a water bottle containing a snake in the trunk of the Palestinian’s vehicle, the IDF said, confirming an Army Radio report.

Nidal Sa’eed told the Hebrew news outlet that he began hearing noise from the trunk shortly after passing through the checkpoint, near the village of Bayt Furiq. One of his relatives, a boy, who was traveling with him reached into the trunk through the back seat to see what was causing the commotion and found the bottle. The boy then screamed at Sa’eed to stop the car. The driver immediately reported the incident to Palestinian Authority police, who passed the complaint on to the Israeli authorities.

“When the case became known to the commanders, an inquiry was established and the fighter was sentenced to prison,” the IDF said.

Army Radio reported that the soldier was given an 18-day sentence and that his continued service in the Givati Brigade combat unit would be evaluated at the conclusion of his punishment.

“We emphasize that this behavior is unacceptable and inconsistent with IDF values, by which the fighters are expected to operate,” the IDF concluded.

A photograph of the reptile appeared to show that it was a coin-marked snake, which is not venomous but bears a close resemblance to the potentially deadly Palestine viper.

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