Five IDF soldiers have been charged by an Israeli military court over an assault on two Palestinian detainees that resulted in serious injuries.
The indictment, filed by Israeli military prosecutors on Thursday, described how five soldiers of the Kfir Brigade’s religious Netzach Yehuda Battalion were being charged with abuse and aggravated assault for “striking the Palestinians with slaps, punches and bludgeons while they were handcuffed and blindfolded, causing them serious injuries.”
The two Palestinians, a father and son, had been arrested during a raid in January searching for Asam Barghouti, who is alleged to have killed two of the soldiers’ comrades in a shooting attack in the West Bank.
The detainees were suspected of helping the gunman escape.
The indictment describes how the IDF soldiers began to assault their detainees as the vehicle carrying the suspects passed the junction where Mr Barghouti is said to have killed their comrades.
The father sustained a broken nose and broken ribs during the assault, as well as internal bleeding, while the son’s head was hurt with soft tissue damage reportedly causing significant swelling.
The Israeli soldiers also reportedly took the blindfold off the son “so that he would see how they were hitting” his father. One soldier is said to have filmed the assault on his phone, with the indictment stating that the others “cheered with joy and pride to one another — all of this in front of the camera lens.”
Two of the soldiers were also charged with obstruction of justice for trying to coordinate their stories.
Asam Barghouti, the suspected gunman, was eventually arrested last month.
A military defence attorney representing the soldiers told the Israeli news site Ynet that “this indictment should not have been filed to begin with, and we are confident that by the end of the trial all the details will be clarified and things will be seen differently.
“These are outstanding soldiers, whose comrades were killed just a month prior, forced into a situation in which they had to carry out the arrest… their mental health should be taken into consideration.”
Military prosecutors requested that the accused soldiers not be released before any legal proceedings take place.