IDF commander suspended after failing polygraph test

Military Police test finds soldier who shot handcuffed Palestinian told truth, officer's version unreliable.

soldier shoot pally 224. (photo credit: AP [file])
soldier shoot pally 224.
(photo credit: AP [file])
A battalion commander who allegedly ordered a soldier to fire a rubber bullet at point-blank range at a handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian was temporarily suspended from active duty on Tuesday after a polygraph test cast doubt on his version of events. Lt.-Col. Omri Burbag, commander of Armored Battalion 71, appeared before OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot on Tuesday for a hearing, after which he was ordered to take a 10-day leave of absence from his position. Eizenkot told Burbag the shooting of the Palestinian was against IDF values and demonstrated a breakdown in Burbag's command. The suspension came a day after Burbag failed a polygraph test given by the Military Police. Last week, he took a private polygraph test and was found to be responding truthfully to questions of whether he had ordered the soldier to shoot the detainee. The shooting took place on July 7 on the outskirts of the village of Ni'ilin, near Ramallah, where Palestinian demonstrators have been holding daily demonstrations against the construction of the nearby security fence. In the incident, soldiers imposed a curfew and fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the protesters. Burbag was caught on video leading the blindfolded and handcuffed Palestinian to a military jeep, where the soldier was then seen raising his weapon and discharging a shot. The soldier claimed that Burbag had ordered him to fire, but the officer told investigators that all he had told the soldier to do was "shake his gun" to scare the detainee. Military sources, however, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that before the Palestinian was caught, Burbag had told the soldier jokingly to shoot him. When the Palestinian was eventually detained and brought to the jeep, the soldier obeyed the order, which Burbag said he had given facetiously. IDF Judge Advocate-General Brig.-Gen. Avihai Mandelblit will decide in the coming week whether to press charges against the battalion commander.