Soldiers who beat, cursed Hebron activists acted inappropriately -IDF inquiry

The investigation found that the soldiers exercised poor judgment and acted against expectations by using violence and verbal harassment.

 Soldiers confront left-wing activists in Hebron, November 25, 2022. (photo credit: Issa Amro and Tal Sagi/Screenshot)
Soldiers confront left-wing activists in Hebron, November 25, 2022.
(photo credit: Issa Amro and Tal Sagi/Screenshot)

The IDF Givati Brigade soldiers who beat and cursed at left-wing activists in Hebron on Friday were found at fault in the exchange and acted unbecoming of Israeli combat troops, according to the army's investigation of the incident, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit announced on Wednesday morning. 

The investigation found that the soldiers exercised poor judgment and acted against expectations in their use of unnecessary physical violence and verbal harassment. 

"Violent behavior against a citizen is unacceptable," said the report. "Additionally, it is forbidden for a warrior to express themselves in a belligerent way while expressing a political position."

The soldiers' decision to detain the activists without their commander's approval was a mistake; such an arrest should have been implemented by Israel Police or Border Police. 

"Violent behavior against a citizen is unacceptable."

IDF investigation

Inappropriate action by IDF soldiers

One soldier, who according to video subdued an activist in a chokehold and later struck him, was suspended from operational duty and placed under investigation by the Military Police and Israel Police. The findings will be forwarded to the Military Attorney General's office, the IDF said. 

IDF soldier tells left-wing activist ''I decide what the law is,'' November 25, 2022. (credit: Issa Amro and Tal Sagi/Screenshot)IDF soldier tells left-wing activist ''I decide what the law is,'' November 25, 2022. (credit: Issa Amro and Tal Sagi/Screenshot)

The other soldier in question, who expressed himself in "an inappropriate manner" was convicted for ten days imprisonment on Tuesday after he confessed to his actions. 

“[Otzma Yehudit head Itamar] Ben-Gvir will create order here. You’ve lost it. All you do here is finished, the whole brothel you make here,” the soldier had said according to another recording. “You do everything against the law. I decide what the law is and you are acting against the law.”

Central command head Maj.-Gen. Yehuda Fuchs said: "I back up IDF combat soldiers, in all uses of force demanded to remove a threat. At the same time, we won't accept incidents in which soldiers go beyond and use their force and authority unnecessarily." 

The IDF did note, however, that the activists had provoked the soldiers, and did not listen to their instructions.

 Preventing future abuses of power

Fuchs instructed staff to explore how to expand and improve the "toolbox" used by soldiers and their commanders in such situations. Yehuda Regional Brigade commander Lt.-Col. Yishai Rosilio echoed calls for further preparations.

"I am well aware of the challenges that exist in the Hebron sector and, by virtue of our responsibility as commanders, we are obliged to give our soldiers a professional 'toolbox' as wide as possible to deal with such cases and to prepare them in the best possible way in order to prevent the recurrence of cases of this type," he said.
The report emphasized that the Tzabar Battalion, the Givati unit to which the soldiers belong, had undergone preparations that included simulated encounters and discussions on ethics prior to their deployment to the region. The investigation held that the unit had acted in Hebron in a professional and successful manner for months. 
"The Tzabar Battalion has been carrying out high-quality operational employment in Hebron for about five months, after a prolonged period of defense along the Seam Line," said Givati Brigade commander Lt.-Col. Eliad Moati. "We will take clear steps regarding those who go beyond and use their authority and power and anyone who does not act with the required professionalism."
Prior to the incident, clashes had erupted in Hebron between settlers and Palestinians, with the IDF in the middle. Jewish visitors had made a pilgrimage to the tomb of Otniel Ben Knaz, the first biblical judge of Israel, in order to celebrate the Shabbat Torah portion of Chayei Sarah. In the clashes, a female IDF soldier was assaulted by a Jewish Israeli man.