Israeli Officer Who Struck Protester Is Dismissed (NY) TIMES) By ISABEL KERSHNER JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 04/19/12)
NEW YORK TIMES
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JERUSALEM — The Israeli military announced on Wednesday that a senior
officer caught on videotape striking a Danish pro-Palestinian
activist in the face with an M-16 rifle during a standoff in the West
Bank was to be dismissed from his post “on moral grounds.”
In addition, the officer, Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner, will not receive a
planned promotion to serve as the deputy commander of the military’s
prestigious officer school, and will not be eligible to serve in a
commanding position for the next two years, the military said in a
The military had moved quickly to suspend Colonel Eisner from his
post as deputy commander of the Jordan Valley Brigade hours after the
video was broadcast on a popular Israeli television news program on
Sunday night. Israeli leaders issued swift condemnations.
The episode took place on Saturday when Israeli soldiers blocked the
path of 200 Palestinians and their foreign supporters who were
participating in a bicycle tour of the Israeli-occupied Jordan Valley
area of the West Bank. The foreign activists said they had wanted to
draw attention to the restrictions placed on Palestinians living in
The altercation occurred when the cyclists tried to leave the
Palestinian village of Ouja and join Route 90, a major north-south
artery. Access to the road was blocked by a line of 10 to 20
soldiers. The activists said that after waiting for half an hour,
singing and chanting, they then decided to walk peacefully toward the
soldiers in an effort to reach Route 90. That, they said, is when
Colonel Eisner became violent.
The Dane, Andreas Ias, 20, had his lips sutured after he was struck.
A Dutch volunteer said that Colonel Eisner had also hit her and a
Palestinian woman in the face, and a Palestinian man in the back,
with his rifle.
Colonel Eisner is not allowed to give interviews to the news media
under army regulations. But he has defended his actions through
associates, arguing that the activists acted violently and broke his
hand in scenes that were not shown in the video. Colonel Eisner has
said that he used the rifle as a club and did not kill anyone, and
that he was acting in order to carry out his mission and prevent harm
to his soldiers.
In interviews, Mr. Ias has vehemently denied accusations that the
activists used violence.
The military said on Wednesday that the chief of staff, Lt. Gen.
Benny Gantz, had concluded from the army’s investigation that there
were also professional and command failures during the episode.
(Copyright 2012 The New York Times Company 04/19/12)
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