Inquiry into skirmish between IDF officer, Danish activist underway. Investigators seek incident’s full video, depose witnesses; legalists doubt footage’s admissibility
The Military Police launched an official inquiry Monday into the incident in which Lt.-Col. Shalom Eisner struck a Danish pro-Palestinian activist with an M-16 rifle, over the weekend.
Eisner has been suspended pending the inquiry’s results. Investigators are now trying to obtain the full video depicting the incident.
The IDF maintains that the version posted on YouTube was heavily edited and did not show the events leading up to the incident, in which the activists assaulted IDF soldiers.
Investigators are also set to depose witnesses in the case. Legal experts told Ynet that the testimonies will play a key role in whether Eisner will face disciplinary action or criminal charges.
Still, senior military law experts told Ynet that the decision on whether or not to press criminal charges may end up having to do more with the incident’s extensive media coverage than actual evidence.
“There have been much more serious incidents in the past that ended with disciplinary action,” Attorney Avi Amiram, who serves as a defense attorney with the IDF’s JAG, explained.
“Such disciplinary action may extend to jail time and various reprimands but not a demotion. The IDF can also suspend future promotions sans formal charges.”
Amiram claimed that since the video depicts only one scene out of a sequence of events, “Those sitting in judgment will be made aware of the fact that the footage was made to serve propaganda purposes.
“We have to remember that the IDF does a lot of policing – which it is not necessarily trained for. It’s time to separate it from the IDF’s operational duties,” he said.
Attorney Colonel (Res.) Ilan Katz, who served as deputy JAG and a military judge, echoed the sentiment, saying that with the exception of the Naalin case, such censure is rare.
Katz added that considering that it is common knowledge that the video has been edited, it may not even be admissible in court.
Still, senior IDF officers condemned Eisner’s conduct and expressed their frustration over the incident’s “PR ramifications.”
“Over the past few year the IDF has come to realize that a camera is a weapon and sometimes it is more lethal that a gun.
“Every officer in every sector is briefed on such matters and the proof is that less and less soldiers are entrapped by cases of obvious provocation.”
By Yoav Zitun
Here’s something that was edited out of the clip: