Israeli officer suspended over protest violence

The Israeli president and prime minister have publicly condemned an officer who was filmed striking an unarmed protester.

The senior officer has been suspended by the Israeli military pending an investigation. Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner was captured on film hitting with his rifle a Danish activist who was demonstrating against Israeli government policies in the West Bank.

Although the protester was unarmed, it is understood that there were 200 demonstrators present and that other incidents involved violence.

Soon after the footage was circulated online, the colonel, deputy commander of the Jordan Valley Brigade, was suspended from his post.

President Shimon Peres described it as intolerable behaviour and said such activity was shocking and disgusting. However, he and other Israeli officials emphasised that this was an isolated incident and did not represent the IDF's position or its core values.

"This kind of behaviour is not typical of the IDF's soldiers and commanders, and has no place in the IDF and the state of Israel," added Benjamin Netanyahu.

Jewish Agency chair Natan Sharansky said that it should be remembered that "although the IDF officer lost his self-control…Israel treats people who break the law in accordance with international law, which is in contrast to others such as Hamas."

Their response was criticised by right-wing politicians, with National Union MK Yaakov Katz complaining that the government had "decided to immediately side with the people who they know hate them as well – the tree choppers, the rock throwers, the road blockers".

Last updated: 3:05pm, April 16 2012