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Gantz to rule on fate of officer who struck activist

April 18, 2012 03:36

Officer who slammed his M16 into the face of a pro-Palestinian activist may not be allowed to remain in military service.

IDF officer hitting activist with M-16

IDF officer hitting activist with M-16 370. (photo credit:YouTube Screenshot)

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz will decide in the coming days whether the senior officer who slammed his M16 in the face of a European protester in the West Bank will be allowed to remain in military service.

On Tuesday, OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon presented the findings from his investigation against Lt.-Col. Shalom Eisner to Gantz, who requested a number of days to review the material before announcing his decision.

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Eisner was suspended from his post on Sunday after he was caught on tape slamming an M16 rifle in the face of a Danish activist in the West Bank.

Gantz is expected to decide either to order Eisner’s discharge from the IDF for his actions or to assign him to another post. The incident took place on Saturday during a pro-Palestinian demonstration on Road 90 in the Jordan Valley.

Eisner was a candidate to become the next deputy commander of the Bahd 1 Officers Training School.

Based on preliminary findings from the investigation into the incident, the commander of the Jordan Valley Brigade – who was on leave due to the Passover holiday – had ordered units in the area to call in police forces to assist in dispersing the demonstration which was blocking traffic on Road 90.

Eisner reportedly decided to try to clear the road on his own with just a dozen or so soldiers.

Channel 10 aired a recording of a conversation with Eisner in which he questioned the IDF’s decision to suspend him and asked “What is more important? To fulfill the mission or to look good on camera?” Eisner admitted that he might have made a mistake but argued that the demonstrators attacked him. Medical documents, the news channel revealed, backed up his claim that his hand had been fractured that day.

“It is true that some of the pictures look bad but in the end I used my weapon as a bat,” he said. “No one was killed and I did not put anyone’s life in danger.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak claimed Tuesday that the incident was isolated and does not reflect the IDF.

“We are talking about a grave, but isolated case, which does not in any way characterize the behavior of the IDF’s soldiers or commanders,” he said.
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