Attorneys say IDF soldiers accused of beating Palestinians were under emotional duress

Israeli military court calls for a plea bargain in case of alleged abuse in the aftermath of a deadly Palestinian terror attack.

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

Attorneys representing five IDF soldiers charged with seriously beating two handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian suspects say that their clients were asked to carry out an impossible task.

The trial opened Monday involving the allegations against the five. The charges against the soldiers are bolstered by a video clip that they recorded by phone, and calls of joy that are heard in the recording, but their lawyers say that their clients were put in a situation that did not take into account the emotional pressure they were under.

“They were called upon to perform an impossible task: to watch over people who helped murder two of their best friends,” the attorneys told the military court in Jaffa.

The two Palestinians, a father and son, were detained on suspicion of helping Asam Barghouti evade authorities. Barghouti is the alleged terrorist in an attack at Givat Assaf in Judea and Samaria in December in which two IDF soldiers from the Netzah Yehuda Battalion were killed and another soldier and civilian were wounded. In January, Barghouti was captured. The father and son are still in custody but have not yet been charged.

The soldiers on trial are also from the Netzah Yehuda Battalion.

According to the indictment, and reinforced by their own video, the soldiers beat the Palestinians all over, including in intimate parts of the body. The soldiers are said to have removed the son’s blindfold and forced him to watch as his father was beaten. Both Palestinians were hospitalized with serious injuries.

Two of the soldiers are also being indicted for obstruction of justice, as they allegedly coordinated their stories before being interrogated.

Military sources say that it is common practice for soldiers to have to carry out detentions in the aftermath of attacks, including deadly incidents, against their own comrades. However, questions have been increasing over whether additional safeguards must be taken to ensure that soldiers are not in emotionally trying predicaments which excessively test their psychological limits.

Defense attorneys reportedly said they were in possession of psychological evaluations of the mental health condition of their clients, who were under the strain of an exhausting series of operations in the wake of the shooting attack that claimed the lives of two members of their unit.

In light of the sensitivity of the circumstances, the IDF Central District Court recommended that the prosecution and defense reach a plea bargain in the case.