Peres slams IDF officer for attack on activist (JERUSALEM POST) By GREER FAY CASHMAN, JPOST.COM STAFF 04/16/12)
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President Shimon Peres expressed shock and outrage on Monday after an
IDF officer was filmed striking a pro-Palestinian activist.
According to a video, posted on YouTube by the International
Solidarity Movement, Lt.-Col. Shalom Eisner, deputy commander of the
Jordan Valley Brigade is seen taking his M-16 and slamming it in the
face of a blond-haired activist. The demonstrator, a Danish national,
falls to the ground and is carried away by fellow activists.
The protester, named as Andreas Ias, was treated in a Palestinian
hospital for light injuries and told Israeli media on Monday that he
"We were just walking slowly towards the soldiers, we were chanting
Palestinian songs calling for the liberation of Palestine. I don´t
believe that is a provocation," he told Israel´s Channel 10
Peres, who met with students of the Hispin Midrasha in the Golan
Heights on Monday said that like other Israelis he had been shocked
and disgusted when he saw the videotape of Eisner striking the
activist across the face with his rifle, but made the point that this
was an isolated incident of violence and not the policy of the IDF.
It was an act deserving of the most severe censure, said Peres.
Peres also concurred with the IDF´s decision to conduct an
investigation and said that behavior such as that displayed by Eisner
could not be tolerated in the IDF, and must be rooted out wherever it
exists. "This attack undeniably demands an investigation and I am
sure that there will be one," he said.
The IDF on Monday condemned the attack, but also stated that the
incident should not be taken out of context to misrepresent the
values of the Israeli army.
Speaking to Israel Radio, IDF Spokesman Brig.- Gen. Yoav Mordechai
said that "these are harsh pictures, but I still can´t divorce the
filmed episodes from the incident that lasted over an hour and which
included violence by the anarchists and Palestinians." At one point
there were over 200 demonstrators, he said, indicating that the video
was being taken out of context.
Nevertheless, Mordechai called the event "grave" and said it could
not be taken as a representation of the values of the IDF.
The IDF´s OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon ordered the
opening of an investigation into the incident. Upon receiving the
preliminary results of the investigation Sunday night, Alon suspended
Eisner until the completion of the probe.
In addition, the Military Advocate-General´s office decided to open a
criminal investigation into the incident, which IDF Chief of General
Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said Sunday evening was not representative
of the IDF´s ethics and morals and would be fully investigated and
treated with the utmost gravity.
Speaking at the Netanya Academic College on Monday, Jewish Agency
Chair Natan Sharansky said that "although the IDF officer lost his
self-control, it is important to remember that Israel treats people
who break the law in accordance with international law, which is in
contrast to others such as Hamas."
Yesha Council chairman Danny Dayan on Monday condemned what he termed
an "overwhelming hysteria" in Israel over the incident. Speaking to
Israel Radio, Dayan said that the officer who struck the activist
should not have been judged by a 7-second video from an incident that
lasted two hours. Moreover, the fact that the IDF had already
condemned the officer just hours after the incident displays a loss
of control on the part of the IDF and an irresponsible course of
action taken by Israeli political leaders.
Dayan called the pro-Palestinian activist an enemy of Israel and
implied that the Jewish state is more concerned with its image abroad
than protecting its soldiers.
Dayan also condemned the Israeli political and military establishment
for its "hysteria" over the incident, saying there was no reason for
the prime minister, the defense minister, and other high-ranking
political authorities to be involved.
NGO Monitor on Monday noted that the International Solidarity
Movement (ISM), which filmed and distributed the video of the attack,
has a history of endorsing violence against Israelis.
In a press release, NGO monitor quoted ISM leaders as having called
for "both non-violent and violent" resistance and having said that
deaths are "no less noble than carrying out a suicide operation. And
we are certain that if these men were killed during such an action,
they would be considered shaheed Allah."
Such violence by a senior officer is rare in the West Bank and
soldiers serving in the West Bank are generally trained to show
restraint during demonstrations or civil disturbances.
According to the Palestinians, the incident took place on Saturday
during a cycling tour around the Jordan Valley by European, Israeli
and Palestinian activists.
The Wafa news agency said that the IDF stopped the 250 participants
along Road 90 near the West Bank village of al Ouja and refused to
allow them to continue. When the cyclists refused, scuffles broke
out. A number of the participants in the demonstration were injured
and taken to hospital in Jericho. The IDF arrested a number of the
Herb Keinon, Yaakov Katz and Reuters contributed to this report. (©
1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 04/16/12)
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