Soldiers accused of abusing detainees

Troops allegedly beat, humiliated Palestinian captives, documented it on their cell phone cameras.

IDF arrest 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
IDF arrest 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Sources in the IDF said Tuesday night that the disturbing allegations of soldiers' abuse of Palestinian detainees that were first reported Tuesday on Israel Radio were already under investigation by the Military Police, and that the IDF viewed the incident as "extremely serious" and "extremely unusual." Israel Radio reported Tuesday morning that soldiers from the Kfir Brigade - which specializes in operating in West Bank urban centers - allegedly abused Palestinian detainees. According to the report, the soldiers beat, kicked and degraded the detainees, scenes that were reportedly documented on the soldiers' cellular phones. In one incident, the report claimed, one of the soldiers exposed himself to the detainees. The soldiers in the report all belonged to the Duchifat Battalion, which operates under the auspices of the Binyamin Regional Brigade. One IDF source familiar with the incident said that the case was already under investigation by military police, and that all the troops suspected of involvement in the alleged abuses had been removed from operational duties. Should the soldiers be found guilty, the source emphasized, they will be sentenced to the fullest extent of the law. Later Tuesday, Dr. Yishai Menuhin, director-general of the Public Council Against Torture in Israel, said that in the past three years, the committee had addressed hundreds of incidents in which soldiers had allegedly abused bound Palestinian detainees. Only a day earlier, a Web site affiliated with Hebrew-language daily Ma'ariv ran a damning article that addressed claims that Palestinian complaints of abuse had risen after soldiers from the Givati Brigade began serving in the West Bank. That report detailed an incident in which a soldier "slammed a Palestinian's head into a wall," but noted that in that case, the soldier's actions were probed by the Military Police and he was sentenced to four months in prison. "Following the events in Dahariya [in which a small unit of troops allegedly hijacked a Palestinian taxi cab], Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi detailed an action plan for educating and enforcing IDF values," said the IDF spokesman in an official statement regarding the allegations about the Duchifat troops. "IDF troops cope with complex situations," the spokesman's office added. "Part of the rise in the number of incidents reported to the public stems from the commanders' actions and their own demands for probes into unusual incidents."