Three out of five IDF soldiers who beat two Palestinians while handcuffed and blindfolded were sentenced as part of a plea bargain by an IDF Court to 190 days in prison on Sunday.
The cases of two other soldiers involved in the incident are still pending, no deal having been reached to date. It appeared that the two remaining soldiers roles in the beatings are viewed by the IDF Prosecution as more severe and that it is seeking more jail time.
Last week, the IDF Prosecution reached a deal with the three, but the deal was only formally approved by the court on Sunday.
Courts are not formally bound by plea bargains though they usually approve them.
The soldiers will all be demoted to the rank of private, but part of the deal included a commitment by the IDF to allow the three soldiers to have their criminal records purged in two years so as not to impact their future job prospects.
Part of the deal which enabled this outcome was that the counts that the soldiers were convicted of were reduced to less serious charges which are easier to get removed.
The other two soldiers will remain in detention, having been arrested first back on January 10.
IDF Chief Public Defender Col. Ran Cohen said that the lenient sentences reflected an acknowledgement by the IDF Prosecution that the incident had been complex.
He noted that it had been important for the IDF to recognize that the soldiers’ commanders had failed to help them cope with the trauma of some of their co-soldiers being killed, leaving them under an extreme amount of stress.
All five soldiers, who serve in the ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda Battalion, had been indicted for perpetrating the beatings against two Palestinians on January 8.
The two Palestinians, a father and a son, were detained on suspicion of aiding Asam Barghouti evade authorities. Barghouti was the terrorist responsible for the Givat Assaf West Bank outpost attack-in which two IDF soldiers from the Netzah Yehuda Battalion were killed and another solider and female civilian were wounded. The two are still in custody but have not yet been charged.
According to the indictment, the defendants took photos and video footage while they beat the Palestinians all over their bodies, including in intimate parts of the body.
The accused are said to have removed the son’s blindfold and forced him to watch as his father was beaten.
During the footage, one can hear cries of joy from the soldiers as the Palestinians are beaten and calling for help.
Both Palestinians were hospitalized at Shaarei Tzedek Hospital due to the beatings.
The indictment of the soldiers also mentioned obstruction of justice charges based on Whats App messages between defendants 3 and 4 about trying to coordinate their narratives.
The soldiers' commander, a lieutenant, was also indicted for negligence and failing to prevent their actions.
Though the officer was not himself involved in beating the Palestinians, he has already been suspended pending trial in an apparent move by the IDF to crack down on officers who do not restrain their soldiers.
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