Israeli army spokesperson’s inaccuracy exposed, as judge releases Palestinian detained in Hebron

Earlier this week, an Israeli military court judge ordered the release of a Palestinian whose violent arrest by non-uniformed Israeli soldiers a month ago was captured on video.

According to a press release from B’Tselem, the judge made his decision to free ‘Abd al-’Aziz Fakhouri “after watching two videos” of the incident: the first, published at the time, and a second, “recently uncovered” by the Israeli human rights group (also seen above).

The event occurred on the 14.08.2012 in Tel Rumeida in Hebron. A video filmed by a foreign citizen depicts soldiers from the Shaham battalion of the Nahal brigade, during a fitness exercise, violently dragging the young man into a stairwell near the checkpoint, with some of them even kicking him.

The second clip obtained by B’Tselem shows footage leading up to the incident, when an Israeli soldier falsely accuses Fakhouri “of having cursed him”, before the Palestinian young man is violently snatched.

Making his decision, the military judge said “it’s clear that the respondent was attacked by a soldier apparently in civilian dress, through no fault of his own, because he [the soldier] thought the respondent had spoken disparagingly to him”. He went on to call it

an example of unreasonable use of force by soldiers in civilian clothes, who it isn’t clear even had the authority to distance the respondent from the area and to arrest him.

Compare this to the response by the Israeli army spokesperson after the first video became public. In comments that appeared in Ha’aretz (and a similar response was given to +972), the Israeli military claimed:

The video does not display all of the incidents leading up to the event. Yesterday, during a routine security check in Hebron, the Palestinian refused to identify himself. The Palestinian man confronted the IDF force on scene, an incident not shown in the video, when the soldiers, who were there unintentionally, assisted the force in completing its mission.

There were additional anonymous remarks by “security sources”, included in a report for The Jerusalem Post by Tovah Lazaroff, that “during questioning the Palestinian man admitted that he physically resisted the inspection” and that “it turned out the Palestinian man was wanted for investigation.”

Meanwhile, Israeli army spokesperson for “Judea and Samaria Division” Captain Barak Raz – who coincidentally was at a ceremony in Hebron at the time – had responded to me on Twitter with the following remarks:

Commenting on Twitter this week, B’Tselem’s Executive Director Jessica Montell said it had been “infuriating from start to finish”, with the Israeli army spokesperson blaming the “victim,” a man “detained a month for nothing.”

So far, there has been no response by the Israeli military or its online spokespersons, despite the evidence of what Montell called a “completely inaccurate” initial statement. Perhaps the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit was fed lies by the soldiers themselves – but in any case, a correction would still be required. Let’s see what happens.


Ben White

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Ben White is a freelance journalist, writer and activist, specialising in Palestine/Israel. His articles have been widely published in the likes of The Guardian‘s Comment is free, Al Jazeera, Electronic Intifada, New Statesman, and many others. He is the author of ‘Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide’ (2009, Pluto Press) and ‘Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination & Democracy’ (2012, Pluto Press). Ben is a researcher/writer for the Journal of Palestine Studies.