IDF troops indicted for beating Palestinians not 'mentally prepared' - officer

Netzach Yehuda soldiers were arrested for severely beating detained Palestinians when transporting suspects involved in the Givat Assaf terror attack.

An IDF soldier maps out the home of the Barghouti brother terrorists  (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
An IDF soldier maps out the home of the Barghouti brother terrorists
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Five IDF soldiers indicted for beating detained Palestinians were not mentally prepared to transport suspects involved in the Givat Assaf terror attack, an officer in the Netzach Yehuda Battalion testified to Military Police.
“We deserved to participate in the arrest operation of those involved in the terrorist attack in which the two Netzah Yehuda soldiers were killed. It was a way to get closure, not a way to get revenge,” Ynet news quoted the officer as saying.
“If we knew that the murderer As’am Barghouti was going to be arrested that night, we would have mentally prepared and things would have looked different,” he continued, adding that “the arrested soldiers are really good and valuable fighters. They are not aggressive. What happened to them does not show their true character because they found themselves in an emotionally stressful situation following the death of their comrades.”
The officer’s comments was the first time testimony of someone involved in the incident was made public.
The military defense attorney representing the soldiers was quoted as saying that their mental health should be looked at as a contributing factor in their actions.
“This indictment should not have been filed to begin with, and we are confident that by the end of the trial all the details will be clarified and things will look differently,” he was quoted by Ynet as saying, adding that “These are outstanding soldiers, whose comrades were killed just a month prior, forced into a situation in which they had to carry out the arrests of those who murdered their comrades (sic)… The aspects related to their mental health should be taken into consideration.”
Another officer in the battalion also stressed that the trauma experienced by the soldiers played a role in the incident as they did not receive any psychological treatment after seeing the bodies of their fellow soldiers killed in the attack.
“This is an influential factor; the battalion experienced trauma of war. This issue should be approached in a sensitive manner,” he said.
The five IDF soldiers from the ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda Battalion were indicted last week for severely beating a father and son detained for suspicion of aiding As’am Barghouti and his brother Saleh evade capture after carrying out two terrorist attacks.
Barghouti, along with his brother, are suspected of carrying out a shooting attack at Ofra Junction on December 9 which injured seven Israelis, One newborn child, who was delivered prematurely as a result of the attack, died three days later.
As’am Barghouti is suspected of carrying out another shooting attack outside the outpost of Givat Assaf, just south of Ofra, days later in which two IDF soldiers, St.-Sgt. Yuval Mor Yosef and Sgt. Yosef Cohen were killed. Two more Israelis were wounded, a female resident of Beit El and another IDF soldier, Nathaniel Felber, who remains in critical condition.
He was arrested on January 8 in the West Bank village of Abu Shukheidim, north of Ramallah, at the home of one of his associates following a manhunt across the West Bank.
The five soldiers, who serve in the ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda Battalion, were arrested on January 10 and had their detention extended until now by the military court. In addition to the soldiers, their commanding officer who holds the rank of lieutenant, was also arrested.
“The five soldiers were charged with aggravated abuse and aggravated battery. The soldiers allegedly cursed, slapped, punched and hit the suspects with fists and blunt objects, targeting their heads as well as other body parts, while the two Palestinians were tied up and blindfolded. The soldiers also allegedly kicked the suspects in the groin and pulled their hair,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement said last week.
Following the IDF Court’s recommendation on Monday that the prosecution and the defense try to reach a deal, Yediot Aharonot reported Wednesday that the prosecution was especially pressed to seek a deal to avoid another media circus as occurred in the Hebron shooter trial.
The report said that the IDF particularly wanted to avoid a public court martial in the midst of election season. In contrast, The Jerusalem Post has learned that the IDF prosecution is not dead-set on a deal and will only agree to a deal that carries jail time. Moreover, the prosecution feels that it has a strong case, including video footage, if the case goes to trial.

Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.