Michael Gershkowitz of the Israeli army’s Kfir brigade, “attacked a group of Palestinian workers, beating three of them over and over again without mercy using his M-16 rifle,” Channel 10 said in a Hebrew-language report on Tuesday.
The horrifying incident occurred in April 2009 outside the Israeli Jewish-only settlement of Petzael in the occupied West Bank’s Jordan Valley, where the workers were waiting for their employers, but the shocking footage has only just been made public.
The surveillance camera video shows that Gershkowitz, who was off-duty at the time, pulled his army-issued rifle from the trunk of his car, called one of the workers over, and then attacked him repeatedly for no reason. At one point, Gershkowitz forced the worker into the car and beat him inside it.
“He kicked him all over the body with no mercy until he fell,” Channel 10 said. Other workers came over and tried to calm the attacker, the report said, but Gershkowitz attacked and tried to beat them too.
Gershkowitz only stopped his “unbridled violence” several minutes later when a friend showed up and they fled the scene.
The worker who was most severly beaten, and who was not named in the report, lost eight teeth, according to his lawyer Lea Tsemel. Tsemel said the attack was like something from the movie Clockwork Orange.
Gershkowitz’s lawyer Avi Baram claimed his client had “wept” when he saw the footage. At trial, Gershkowitz received a token sentence of two months imprisonment and four months of community service.
While violence against Palestinians and their property by Israeli occupation soldiers and settlers is routine, accountability is almost nonexistent. In the rare situations when a case comes to trial, the punishments, as in this one, are risibly light.