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IDF initiates program to stem Kfir Brigade abuse
Yaakov Katz
03/17/2008
In the past six months, Brigade Commander Col. Itay Avirov suspended some 30 soldiers from combat service for unethical conduct.
Simulations, workshops and close cooperation with left-wing humanitarian groups are some of the steps the IDF's Kfir Brigade is implementing in an effort to curb an increase in the number of reported cases of its soldiers who allegedly abuse Palestinians in the West Bank. Made up of six battalions, the Kfir Brigade was established a year and a half ago. While its soldiers were behind the majority of arrest operations in the West Bank, they were also involved in what has become known as the "Dahariya Incident." The Dahariya incident took place in July when a platoon commander and several soldiers from the Lavi Battalion commandeered a Palestinian cab in the Hebron-area village of Dahariya, tied up the driver and began driving throughout the village, eventually shooting and wounding a resident who they said looked suspicious. The platoon commander stood trial and was sentenced to 15 months in military prison. Other incidents involved placing an electrical heater next to the face of a Palestinian boy, beating Palestinians as well as soldiers, and mooning a group of Palestinians and left-wing international activists. In the past six months, Brigade Commander Col. Itay Avirov suspended some 30 soldiers from combat service for unethical conduct. Most of the cases did not involve Palestinians, but took place within the brigade's various bases and involved theft or fights between soldiers. IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi presented the findings from the inquiry into the incident during a meeting of the IDF's top officer corps late last year and recently decided that during inspections of field units he would also personally probe the "ethical level" of commanders and their soldiers. "We are in touch with humanitarian groups in the territories," said Maj. Gilad Farhi, one of the officers involved in planning the training regimens for the 500 new soldiers due to be inducted into the brigade Tuesday. "We also run simulations with them and, most importantly, we review probes into incidents together with the soldiers so they can learn from them."
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