My son and two of his friends from the Nahal Haredi unit stand accused of
abusing an arrested member of Hamas. While the IDF pursued its investigation,
they sat in jail for 14 days.
The three were accused of taking a picture
of themselves standing next to the blindfolded Hamas terror suspect in Jenin
eight months ago.
This event occurred after a vigorous year of training
and active duty, when they were on their first mission to successfully arrest a
terror suspect whose actions, if left unheeded, could have resulted in the loss
of innocent life. Like many fresh recruits on their first successful mission,
they were excited and wanted to memorialize this first arrest.
like to state unequivocally that what they did was morally incorrect. It was
childish, insensitive to the prisoner and potentially damaging to Israel. They
fully deserve to be reprimanded.
However, the arrest and subsequent
accusations seems to have lost all sense of proportion. This is not Abu Ghraib,
where prisoners were humiliated and tortured in shocking ways as part of an
established pattern of abuse. This is not even Eden Abergil, who posted her
photos on Facebook for all to see and reveled in her notoriety.
photos were never intended to be publicized and were merely in the cellphone
memory, largely forgotten by my son and his comrades.
The soldiers have
admitted that their actions were inappropriate and immature, but it is also
vital to note that they never abused the prisoner in any way, shape or form. The
photos themselves do not reflect any abuse, and although the IDF prosecutor
claims that a couple of pictures appear to show the soldiers’ rifles pointed at
the prisoner, the photos are entirely ambiguous. The rifles appear to be hanging
from their shoulders in the manner typical of IDF soldiers, and certainly not in
a threatening way.
As part of the investigation, the IDF prosecutor
interviewed the Hamas member in the pictures. He was asked if the soldiers’
actions were humiliating, and although it must have been very tempting to do
otherwise, he replied in the negative. He unequivocally stated that he suffered
no threats or ill-treatment other than the embarrassment of the arrest
The IDF prosecutor’s written statement to the court states that
the “importance of the case... is in the context which we live in. After the
Goldstone report and the Mavi Marmara [flotilla], in a period when we as a
military and a state are under a so-called moral siege, we... are being examined
under a magnifying glass. The severity of the actions is beyond the specific
LET ME reiterate. What the boys did was wrong and the army
cannot tolerate such conduct. They deserve reproof for their insensitivity. In a
state of law we must extend respect even to terrorists, and even when the
prisoner is not aware of the disrespect being shown him. Nevertheless,
insensitivity is not a crime. To subject them to the humiliation of arrest, hold
them in jail for 14 days with barely any contact with their family and to accuse
them of serious felonies reflects an absurd lack of perspective.
something cruelly ironic in this: For taking a picture of a handcuffed person
suspected of terrorism, my son, suspected of insensitivity, was paraded in
handcuffs before a lineup of TV cameras for the evening news. Unlike the Hamas
member, however, my son was painfully aware of his degradation. And now, he may
spend up to a year in jail.
However, the prosecutor’s statement indicates
that these soldiers were not being punished for their crimes, but for Israel’s
current international image. Consider that before the Facebook fiasco, the IDF
soldier who was videotaped shooting at a manacled prisoner – a much more heinous
crime – served only two days in jail before his trial. It is unconscionable that
these imprudent boys should bear the brunt of the distorted view of Israel that
is currently spread around the world.
BY PUNISHING our soldiers for
perceived crimes, minor errors of judgment, or to avoid the world’s
handing a victory to our enemies, and to those, like Justice Richard
who have denied our right to self-defense.
Secondly, we will undoubtedly
once again need our soldiers to fight be prepared to lay down their
lives in our
defense. This type of overreaction and punishment will be massively
They need to know that the authorities will show them empathy and
Anyone who has served in the army understands the
challenges. These are good kids from good homes with parents who
to serve their country. They literally risk their lives to enter places
Jenin and arrest terrorists. They pass countless sleepless nights so we
sleep comfortably in our beds.
This episode has had a demoralizing effect
on the Nahal Haredi, a unit meant to serve as an example for others. In
the effect has passed far beyond their unit, to the larger IDF where
incensed at this overreaction.
Our government refused to cooperate with
the Goldstone Commission, and our best legal minds have proven that the
Goldstone Report is flawed, distorted and, as the US Congress
voted, “irredeemably biased.” However, by applying the Goldstone Report
measure for our soldiers, we give our delegitimizers success.
Shlomo Tzipori said, “It is not right to take pictures next to a
with handcuffs, but these soldiers do not need to be hung out to dry.
paying the price for the Goldstone report and the Mavi Marmara. By
soldiers and handcuffing them, the IDF is the one causing the real
We cannot permit the “Goldstone effect” to take root in our
army’s culture. Giving our enemies the power to influence how we judge
soldiers is a very dangerous precedent. While we must always prosecute
criminal activity in the IDF and educate to the highest moral standards,
our fighting men feel the system will offer them up on the altar of
we will all pay the price.The writer is the father of one of the
arrested soldiers. His name has been changed to protect his identity.