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Judge Advocate General Brig.-Gen. Avichai Mandelblit ordered the opening of a criminal investigation Wednesday night after watching video footage aired on Channel 2 that showed IDF officers beating left-wing protesters.
Five left-wing demonstrators were wounded earlier in the day when they clashed with soldiers during a protest against roadblocks south of Hebron.
Channel 2 aired footage of the clashes which showed protesters dismantling a roadblock. The video showed soldiers and border policemen armed with assault rifles and wearing helmets, pushing the Israeli protesters away, wrestling with some, shoving a woman and stabbing a young man in the ribs with a rifle barrel.
The demonstrator was seen collapsing to the ground, screaming in pain, holding his chest. His condition was not known.
After watching the footage, Mandelblit ordered the Military Police to investigate the incident. IDF sources said that while it was possible the soldiers used excessive force, the protesters broke the law when trying to unilaterally dismantle a roadblock.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz spoke by phone with IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and ordered him to investigate the incident.
"The IDF must behave properly and legally," Peretz told Ashkenazi. "The incident appears to have been a major deviation from IDF norms and values."
The IDF Spokesperson's Office also released a statement: "There was a violent and provocative riot during which the rioters removed a checkpoint and tried to block a main road. Checkpoints such as the one involved save Israeli lives on a daily basisâ€¦The incident was unpleasant to watch and will be investigated."
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