Conflict & Justice

Israeli Defense Forces soldier hits protester in the face with a rifle, gets suspended (VIDEO)


Little explanation warranted for this, in the Beit Lahiye area of Gaza, badly damaged in the conflict. (Theodore May/GlobalPost)

An Israeli Defense Forces soldier has been suspended for hitting a pro-Palestine activist in the face with a gun, the Israeli military announced today.

In a statement, the military promised that the incident would be investigated further, CNN reported, and Israeli military spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich said the officer's actions do "not bide with the ethical code and the moral values that we teach our soldiers and commanders." However, Leibovich also hinted that the protest may have become violent.

"I'm not sure the violence of the event was conveyed in those 30 seconds," Leibovich said, according to CNN. 

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In video footage of the incident, the attack against activist Andreas Ias appears to be unprovoked. And in an interview with Haaretz, Ias said that the IDF's suggestions that the protest had become violent "were a complete lie."

"If I thought this would happen I would have protected myself, it came out of nowhere," Ias told Haaretz.

News of the incident first came out over the weekend, when a pro-Palestine activist group posted video of Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner shouting at protesters at a rally in the West Bank. Eisner then hit Ias, a Danish activist, in the face with an M-16 rifle.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the soldier's actions in a public statement, BBC News reported.  

"Such behavior is not characteristic of the soldiers and commanders of the IDF," Netanyahu said in a statement released on Sunday, according to Al-Jazeera. "It has no place in the IDF and the State of Israel."

The news comes after Israel detained dozens of international activists Sunday to prevent them from participating in a pro-Palestinian rally.