Two soldiers sentenced to jail terms for beating Palestinian detainees

Netzah Yehuda soldiers to serve five-and-a-half and two months respectively, for abusing two bound Palestinians suspected of aiding a gunman who had killed two of their comrades

Illustrative: One of five Netzah Yehuda soldiers convicted of beating two Palestinian detainees arrives for a court hearing at the Jaffa Military Court, on January 10, 2019. (Flash90)
Illustrative: One of five Netzah Yehuda soldiers convicted of beating two Palestinian detainees arrives for a court hearing at the Jaffa Military Court, on January 10, 2019. (Flash90)

A military court on Monday sentenced two soldiers to jail terms for beating a pair of handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian detainees.

After agreeing to a plea bargain deal, one of the two men was sentenced to five and a half months behind bars and the other to two months in jail. Three other soldiers were sentenced on Sunday, and will each serve a six-month custodial sentence. All five will serve a period of probation, and have been demoted to the rank of private.

All five soldiers are from the ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda battalion.

The five soldiers were indicted for aggravated assault and aggravated abuse and were convicted on Thursday for the incident which took place in January. Two of them were also charged with obstruction of justice for attempting to coordinate their statements before they were interrogated.

All five were arrested and charged for severely abusing two Palestinian suspects — a father and his son — believed to have assisted a terrorist who had killed two of the soldiers’ comrades in a shooting attack at a bus stop in the West Bank.

According to the indictment, the soldiers beat the two handcuffed and blindfolded detainees who have since been charged for aiding the terrorist. They recorded their actions on a smart phone. One of the Palestinians sustained severe injuries that forced his hospitalization and Israeli security forces had to wait several days before they could question him.

A photo composite shows Sgt. Yosef Cohen, left, and Staff Sgt. Yovel Mor Yosef of the IDF’s Kfir Brigade who were killed on December 13, 2018, in a terrorist shooting attack near the Givat Assaf settlement outpost in the central West Bank. (Israel Defense Forces)

The soldiers’ commanding officer, a lieutenant, was also charged last month for failing to prevent the abuse, despite knowing that it was taking place.

One of the convicted soldiers told the court that the trauma of losing friends in the attack last December was what prompted the abuse.

All five were accused of “striking the Palestinians with slaps, punches and bludgeons, while they were handcuffed and blindfolded, causing them serious injuries,” the army said in a statement last month.

In the attack, Palestinian Asem Barghouti fired at a bus stop outside the Givat Assaf outpost near Ramallah, killing two soldiers stationed there and seriously injuring a third serviceman and a civilian woman, the IDF said.

Barghouti fled the scene, but was arrested at the home of an alleged accomplice in the nearby village of Abu Shukheidim on January 8. The two Palestinians who were beaten were arrested on suspicion they helped Barghouti hide from security forces.

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