TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — An Israeli military court has sentenced three soldiers to prison time for abusing a Palestinian and obstructing an investigation into the incident, the army said Wednesday, in a rare punishment against army forces.
Two soldiers were convicted of abuse and a third was additionally convicted of exceeding his authority and endangering the man's life or health, the army said. Military police investigators served up the indictment after the men were arrested last month.
The indictments said the three soldiers, as well as a fourth, took the Palestinian man in a military jeep and drove to an unidentified “distant location." During the drive and afterward, “violence was used against the victim” and he was left in a remote location, the statement said.
The soldiers, whose identities were withheld, then “hid the details of the incident from their commanders in an attempt to prevent (military officials) from opening an investigation and coordinated their versions regarding the details of the incident,” the statement said.
The soldiers reached plea agreements. The court sentenced the two soldiers convicted of abuse to 60 days of prison, a suspended sentence and a reduction of their ranks. The third soldier, convicted of exceeding authority and endangering life or health, was sentenced to 40 days in prison, a suspended prison sentence and a reduction of rank.
The fourth soldier, indicted for assault, abuse under aggravated circumstances, threats and additional offenses, is still pending trial.
The military court barred the soldiers' identities, the statement said.
Human rights groups accuse the Israeli military of rarely punishing soldiers for offenses against Palestinians.
Between 2017 and 2021, the Israeli military received 1,260 cases of alleged offenses by Israeli soldiers against Palestinians, including 409 cases involving the killing of Palestinians, according to military data obtained by the group Yesh Din and released in December after a freedom of information request.
The Israeli military opened 248 criminal investigations into instances of possible misconduct in response to those complaints — just 21.4% of the total, Yesh Din said. Only 11 investigations during that five-year period have yielded indictments.
The Israeli military contended there had been more charges filed against soldiers than Yesh Din had reported, with a total of 31 indictments lodged during the five-year period for offenses also involving the use of weapons, property damage and violence against Palestinians.