Israel's military chief called a recent incident, in which soldiers attacked left-wing activists, “a serious breach of conduct,” with the use of violence “contrary to the values of the IDF.”
Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi suspended the soldiers involved in the scuffle with a group of left-wing activists that arrived in Hebron on Friday.
The activists were in the city to meet with Palestinians who had clashed with Israelis during an annual Jewish pilgrimage to Hebron, the “City of the Patriarchs” of the Jewish people, for the reading of that week's Torah portion about Isaac re-digging Abraham's wells.
An Israeli soldier reportedly approached one of the activists and tried to detain him. Videos from the incident show the soldier pulling one of the activists into a bus station before throwing him on the ground and punching him in the face. Another soldier is heard in the background cursing left-wing Israelis.
A statement released shortly after the incident stated, “The conduct of the soldiers is serious, and the violence used is not consistent with the values of the Israeli military.”
According to the IDF, the events are under investigation, after which the findings will be forwarded to the military attorney’s office for examination. All of the soldiers involved have been removed from operational duties pending the investigation’s completion.
In a separate video, a soldier from the same squad is heard confronting an activist and mentioning far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir’s new role in the governmental coalition being formed, saying, “Ben Gvir is going to sort things out in this place. That’s it; you guys have lost … the fun is over.”
Earlier on Friday, it was announced that Ben Gvir will be named public security minister, a position expanded specifically for him. On Saturday, the Jewish Power party leader suggested the activists were to blame, as they probably had provoked the soldiers, prompting their forceful reaction.
“I know these leftists well who come to Hebron,” he said in a statement. “They provoke the soldiers, insult them and often attack them, as well. I call on the police to investigate whether the left-wing extremists provoked the soldiers and injured them first. They must verify that the photos of the incident have not been falsified.”
While agreeing that “harming members of the far-left on the basis of their opinions could not be accepted,” Ben Gvir said that “if it does turn out that these far-left activists have attacked and injured soldiers, they must be arrested immediately and put on trial.”
The lawmaker said that once the government is formed, he will seek clarification of the soldiers’ suspension from the military.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.