Israel Defense Forces officer reprimanded after injuring and gassing left-wing activists in West Bank
(JTA) – An Israel Defense Forces officer will be reprimanded after being filmed wounding and gassing left-wing activists in the West Bank, with video showing him kneeling on an activist’s neck.
Several Israeli politicians condemned the officer’s conduct, with one defending it.
The activists were trying to bring water to a Palestinian community in the hills of southern Hebron, an area in the southern West Bank that is particularly contested. The area is under full Israeli civilian and military control, and Israel has restricted Palestinian construction and access to water in the area. According to a statement from Combatants for Peace, the activist organization, the military does not allow Palestinian residents to have access to running water and only allows them to purchase limited amounts of water on certain days.
Videos show the officer, whose identity is not known, firing tear gas and pushing aside several activists, including an incident in which he pushed an activist off a road and to the ground . Another video shows him kneeling on activist Tuly Flint’s neck.
“We didn’t resist,” Flint told The Times of Israel. “We believe in non-violence, we do not resist the agents of the law. Laying down on the floor and strangling myself with one leg on my neck was totally redundant.
In a statement after the incident, the IDF called the militants’ conduct a “violent demonstration” and said the protesters were blocking the road to a nearby Israeli settlement. The militants “tried to physically attack the soldiers, insulted them, threatened them and even laid on the wheels of military vehicles,” the IDF said.
But on Sunday, following an investigation, the IDF announced that the officer in question would be reprimanded, according to Haaretz. The IDF said in a statement that the officer “made a mistake and did not act in a way that the situation called for or that met IDF standards.”
The military added that the decision to gas the activists and blindfold one was also wrong, and that in general, the Israel Police or the Border Police, rather than the IDF, should be the same. law enforcement entity interacting with Israeli citizens.
The videos pit members of Israel’s ideologically hostile coalition against each other. Abir Kara, a deputy minister of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s party, called left-wing activists “terrorist agents” and added: “The arrest is not a pleasant thing. Good for our soldiers. Full support to commanders in the field.
But Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, leader of the left-wing Meretz party, called for an investigation and said in a statement that the activists were treated “brutally” and that “the violence of the soldiers against the peace activists must to cease “.
Another Meretz lawmaker, Mossi Raz, said the military should have done more than scold the officer. Fighters for Peace issued a similar statement.
“The decision to settle for a reprimand from the attacking major is shameful,” Raz tweeted. “The attacked and injured protesters have been attacked again by the military, which has given its soldiers the green light to act with violence against anyone who desires peace.
The incident occurred about a year after another IDF officer was filmed kneeling on the neck of a 65-year-old Palestinian activist; this activist was later found guilty of incitement. In April this year, Israeli police officers beat and knelt before a left-wing Jewish lawmaker.