Four Israeli soldiers and an Israeli army officer have been arrested for beating two Palestinians who were being held in custody.
Israel's Military Police arrested the five personnel yesterday and will refer them to a military court today in order to remand them in custody, the Times of Israel reported, citing a statement from the Israeli army.
The soldiers are accused of beating two Palestinians who were arrested earlier this month near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank. The pair were arrested during a manhunt for the alleged perpetrator of an attack on Israeli soldiers near the illegal outpost of Givat Assaf in December, which came amid a week of heightened violence and Israeli crackdowns across the occupied West Bank.
The soldiers are suspected of beating the detained Palestinians as revenge for December's attack, since both sets of soldiers belong to the same unit – the Netzah Yehuda Battalion of the Kfir Brigade, which is stationed in the occupied West Bank.
This is not the first time the Netzah Yehuda Battalion – an ultra-Orthodox unit based near the northern West Bank city of Jenin – has been accused of right-wing violence against Palestinians. According to the Times of Israel: "Last month, two members of the battalion were dismissed from duty after they fought with a group of Border Police officers who had arrested civilian friends of theirs for throwing rocks at Palestinian homes in Ramallah." An investigation into the two soldiers was opened earlier this week.
In 2016, a Netzah Yehuda soldier was sentenced to nine months in prison for torturing Palestinian suspects with electric shocks. According to Israel's military prosecutors, the soldier in question arrested a Palestinian near Jenin in October 2015, before blindfolding, handcuffing and beating him. The soldier then attached electrodes to the Palestinian's neck and shocked him, increasing the voltage when the man begged the soldier to stop.
In 2015, an Israeli soldier from the same battalion was sentenced to 21 days in military prison for celebrating the murder of 18-month-old Palestinian Ali Dawabsheh at a wedding. In a video, wedding guests could be seen dancing with guns, knives and a pretend Molotov cocktail, as well as holding and stabbing a photo of Ali. According to a Times of Israel article at the time, the wedding guests – including the Netzah Yehuda soldier – were thought to have links to Amiram Ben-Uliel, an extremist Israeli settler believed to have carried out the firebomb attack that killed Ali and left his five-year-old brother Ahmed orphaned. Over three years later, Ben-Uliel remains under investigation for the attack.