Colonel suspended after hitting activist

April 16, 2012 at 7:26 AM
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JERUSALEM, April 16 (UPI) -- A senior Israeli army officer was suspended from duty after he was caught on camera striking a Danish pro-Palestinian activist with a rifle, the army said.

A video shows Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner, deputy commander of the Jordan Valley Brigade, hitting the 20-year-old activist in the face with an M-16, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday.

The Dane, identified as Andreas Ias, was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Jericho and later returned to Nablus where he is staying, and Eisner was treated for two broken fingers, the report said.

The incident occurred after a group of International Solidarity Movement activists from Israel and other countries cycled along a road with Palestinians to protest Israei activities. The cyclists were stopped by soldiers who requested they refrain from blocking the highway.

Footage of the incident, which took place Saturday on a Jordan Valley highway, was posted Sunday on YouTube by the ISM and later screened on Israeli television stations and foreign media networks.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu condemned the incident Sunday night on Israel's Channel One, saying, "This behavior does not characterize soldiers and officers of Israel Defense Force and it has no place in the IDF or in the state of Israel."

The army's chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, said the incident does not represent the army's ethical or moral code.

Anders said he had been visiting in the West Bank for two months. He said the group of cyclists ignored a request by soldiers to stop blocking the road and continued to cycle until they were stopped once again.

"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 Yedioth Ahronoth.

Details of a report Eisner delivered to his superiors was obtained by Eisner said he permitted the group of activists to demonstrate inside a Palestinian village off the main road for 15 minutes.

"All was calm and in control; that is why I didn't bring a water cannon and gave them 15 minutes to protest. … It was a group of 60 activists and suddenly two buses arrived and the activists all together called to block the road while closing our barrier. One of the Palestinian organizers told me at this stage she no longer had control over the event."

Eisner was suspended pending results of an investigation, officials said.

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