Military Police investigators searched for “right-wing” messages on the cellphones of soldiers from the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Netzah Yehuda battalion, a legal representation group said on Thursday.
The investigation centers on a group of combat soldiers who are under arrest for allegedly striking a Palestinian security suspect in the bathroom of an IDF base after he was arrested recently in Jenin.
According to the Honenu legal aid organization that often represents soldiers and other Israelis suspected of far-right attacks, a “sad and shocking document” from the investigation shows that the Military Police searched cellphones of soldiers for political statements.
Attorney Chai Haber from Honenu said that the document, which the organization sent to the media, includes instructions for investigators to search for “right-wing statements” and words such as “hitting a Palestinian,” particularly on WhatsApp messaging chats and Facebook communications.
Haber, who represents two of the soldiers under investigation, condemned the Military Police tactics, which he said went beyond searching for evidence, and have “without doubt infringed on the privacy in areas that the army should have no interest in. It was interesting to see that there were no searches for leftwing statements.”
A total of seven combat soldiers are under investigation for allegedly assaulting three security suspects in various incidents. The main incident involves the Jenin suspect and three soldiers who are under arrest. They have denied any wrongdoing and say that the suspect “went wild” after being arrested, banging his head against the wall and floor repeatedly.
“Military Police chose to believe the account of the terrorist, who said that he hit his head against the wall because he wanted the soldiers to stop hitting him,” Honenu said.
But the soldiers maintain that the suspect hit his head “for no reason, before they brought him into the bathroom.”
Four additional soldiers are under arrest for allegedly striking other security suspects.
The IDF Spokesman’s Office said that the “issue is under a Military Police investigation.”