An Israeli court unsealed chilling footage of ultra-Orthodox IDF soldiers laughing as they beat a handcuffed Palestinian father and his teenage son, who were captured in a raid. The video was evidence in a detainee abuse trial.
A court in Jaffa lifted the gag order on the video on Tuesday following requests from Israeli media. The footage shows soldiers from the ultra-Orthodox 97th Netzah Yehuda Battalion with the IDF abusing two handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian detainees inside a military vehicle.
“We’re having a party,” the laughing soldiers can be heard saying as they repeatedly hit the detainees on the head, demanding that they “say hello” to the camera. One of the bound men was injured so badly that investigators couldn’t question him immediately afterwards.
After striking a plea deal, the five IDF soldiers were found guilty of abuse and sentenced to serve between two and six-and-a-half months in prison. They were all demoted in rank and put on probation. The soldiers’ commander is facing charges of failing to prevent the abuse of detainees by his subordinates.
The shocking case garnered much attention in Israel. TV presenter Oshrat Kotler said that young IDF soldiers become “human animals” after they return from the West Bank. “That’s the result of the occupation” of Palestinian lands, she said. The journalist’s comments were met with both backlash and support.
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The incident happened in January. Both captured Palestinians, a father and his teenage son, were suspected of helping to hide a fleeing terrorist who had previously shot up a bus stop outside an outpost near Ramallah in the West Bank, killing two Israeli soldiers. Media reports say that the Palestinian men were eventually indicted earlier this year.
The IDF has been repeatedly accused of mistreating Palestinians during arrests and while in custody. Last year, a 33-year-old man died hours after he was severely beaten during an arrest amid clashes in Jericho, in the West Bank. Footage from the scene showed the soldiers gun-butting him as he was lying on the ground.