Haaretz: Military Police to probe soldiers’ assault on Israeli activists

9 May 2007

By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent, and the Associated Press

The Military Police criminal investigations division is to launch an investigation into an incident in the West Bank on Wednesday in which armed Israel Defense Forces reservist soldiers used violence against left-wing Israelis protesters.

The protesters had dismantled a temporary roadblock in the Hebron Hills, close to the town of Dahariyah, provoking the troops’ response.

Around 10 anarchist activists and several Palestinians arrived at the site and removed cement blocks that were blocking an unpaved footpath connecting the town to Route 60, the main road in the West Bank that runs from south of the Hebron Hills to Hebron itself.

The activists then moved to the main road near the Otniel settlement and attempted to block it to traffic. The reservist soldiers who arrived the scene tried to remove the protesters, at which point the clashes erupted.

The footage, filmed by protesters at the scene, shows an officer beating one of the activists, pushing the Israeli protesters away, wrestling with some, shoving a woman and stabbing a young man in the ribs with a rifle barrel.

The demonstrator was seen collapsing to the ground, screaming in pain, holding his chest. It was not known how seriously he was wounded.

Speaking after consultations with IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi later Wednesday, Defense Minister Amir Peretz said that the images apparently showed excessive and serious behavior on the part of the soldiers, and the incident would be investigated and dealt with accordingly.

Peretz urged demonstrators from the right and from the left to act within the confines of the law.

The Channel 2 military reporter said maintaining roadblocks in the area was essential, because several Palestinian suicide bombers have used that route on their way to Israel.

Palestinians and human rights groups complain that the hundreds of roadblocks have ruined economic and social life in the West Bank.