Middle East

Israel removes officer shown hitting activist from post

A still from video footage showing the demonstrator being hit in the face with a gun
Image caption The video footage was filmed by activists and posted on the internet

An Israeli army officer filmed hitting a pro-Palestinian protester in the face with his rifle has been dismissed from his post, the military says.

A video showing Lt Col Shalom Eisner striking the young Danish activist was shown on the internet and Israeli TV.

An army statement said Lt Col Eisner was moved from the post of divisional deputy commander "on moral grounds".

Lt Col Eisner says the activist broke some of his fingers before the events shown in the film.

The officer, who had already been suspended pending an investigation, was also barred from senior command positions for two years.

In addition, Lt Col Eisner will not take up a planned posting at the army's officer school. Correspondents say he has not been dismissed from the army.

An Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesman described the incident as "extremely serious and in absolute contradiction with IDF ethics".

"There are different bodies, some of them anarchists and belligerent war instigators, disparaging our soldiers to create a buzz in the media, but we must maintain IDF ethics and avoid getting dragged into a provocation," the spokesman, Brig Yoav Mordechai, said.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt Gen Benny Gantz also concluded in his investigation that there had been "professional and command failure", according to the statement .

The footage shows Lt Col Eisner shouting at protesters in the Jordan Valley, near Jericho, and then hitting the activist, who does not wish to be identified publicly, with his M16 rifle.

The protester said the demonstration was an entirely non-violent affair. He was treated for light injuries in a Palestinian hospital.

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