Five IDF soldiers arrested for beating Palestinians

The military police arrested an Israeli platoon commander and four combat soldiers on Wednesday for allegedly beating two Palestinians who they had detained, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said.

The five, who serve in the Netzah Yehuda Battalion, will be brought to a military court today to face charges. While the military did not provide a date when the beating took place, the two Palestinians who had been arrested – and were then beaten – were detained in the Ramallah area as part of the , who killed two soldiers from the Netazah Yehuda battalion outside the West Bank outpost of Givat Assaf.

The military is investigating whether the soldiers had been motivated by revenge for their comrades killed in the deadly attack.
According to a report by Haaretz, one of the Palestinians was badly beaten and needed urgent medical care. He could not be interrogated.

The Netzah Yehuda battalion, which was established 20 years ago, is made up of religious soldiers ranging from ultra-Orthodox Israelis to new immigrants to those who identify with the settler movement.

In the past couple of years, the battalion – which operates mainly in the West Bank – has been involved in a number of violent incidents where soldiers have been accused of severe abuse including violent beatings and even electrocuting Palestinians who are in their custody.

In mid-December, two soldiers from the battalion attempted to release settlers who had been arrested by Border Police for throwing stones at Palestinian homes. As a result, a fight broke out between the soldiers and border police force, leading to their suspension pending a joint investigation of the incident by the IDF and the Border Police.

In 2016, a soldier from the battalion was sentenced to nine months in prison and demoted to the rank of private after he was convicted by a military court of using a medical device to shock two Palestinian prisoners in the neck. Another soldier filmed the abuse on his cellphone, showing the victim handcuffed and blindfolded.

Around the same time another soldier was convicted for beating a Palestinian detainee from the West Bank village of Safarin by hitting and kicking him.

In 2014, reforms passed in the Knesset aimed to gradually increase ultra-Orthodox recruitment was met with stiff opposition from many in the religious community who has historically been exempt from military service.

According to the military, there continues to be an increase in haredim who draft into the IDF. In 2017, 3,100 such soldiers enlisted in the IDF, after 2,850 were recruited in 2016.

Hagay HaCohen contributed to this report.

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