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Video: Israeli soldier suffering ‘flashbacks’ brutally attacked Palestinian workers near settlement

Israel/Palestine

A shocking video from Israel’s Channel 10 and picked up by Al Quds shows an assault by an Israeli soldier on Palestinian laborers in 2009. The soldier was 19 and was convicted of the assault three weeks ago. His weapon of choice was an M-16.

Our friend Shmuel provides this translation:

The report (from Chanel 10) describes the attacker as “Kfir Brigade soldier on leave, Michael Gershkovitz”.  The incident occurred on 16 April 2009, outside the settlement of Petzael in the Jordan Valley (captured on security camera), and Gershkovitz was tried (indicted a few months after the incident) for “wounding and inflicting grievous bodily harm”.  In his defense he blamed “flashbacks” from the extreme violence he had witnessed during his service in the Territories.

Shmuel consulted the court records:

He was convicted on 7/7/13.  The summary doesn’t say what the sentence was but that he confessed, that his age at the time (19 and 1 month) was taken into account, that he was followed by a parole board (he is now working as a barman in Eilat) and that attempts were made to reach a settlement with the victims.

According to the report, the attack was completely unprovoked.  Gershkovitz just drove up to a group of Palestinian workers waiting to be picked up by their employers, took out his M-16 and started to beat  them.

Ofer Neiman says an Israeli NGO states that the soldier received a two-month sentence.

A soldier on leave treats Palestinians in the Jordan valley like punching bags, breaking 4 teeth of one of them. And it is no coincidence that he feels entitled, that he will not have to pay the price for his actions. He is right. The judge gives him a shockingly light sentence: two months in prison and four months of community service. 

Here is a translation by online translation services of the Al Quds story:

This video aired by Channel 10 shows a brutal assault. The assailant is reportedly  an Israeli soldier in civilian clothes.

According to the video channel that aired a few hours ago, the soldier, who was wearing civilian clothes, approaches the car with a number of Palestinian workers who work at a nearby settlement, returns to his car and gets his weapon and without any reason started beating them one by one.

The announcer on says the original video shows a ten minute attack, striking workers, and says, “violence is not restricted.” It says that a number of workers have complained against the soldier and “a military court sentenced him to only two months.”

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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37 Responses

  1. FreddyV
    July 31, 2013, 10:37 am

    The extreme violence he witnessed. Was that violence perpetrated by Israelis on Palestinians.

    We don’t hear too much about Palestinians committing violent acts against the IDF or settlers, so I’m a little lost as to how we could use this as any kind of excuse.

    • talknic
      August 1, 2013, 12:25 am

      @ FreddyV ” I’m a little lost as to how we could use this as any kind of excuse”

      Easy … have a snort of ziocaine

  2. a blah chick
    July 31, 2013, 11:01 am

    “In his defense he blamed “flashbacks” from the extreme violence he had witnessed during his service in the Territories.”

    Assuming this is true then the fellow is obviously too tender-hearted to be a thug for the empire. Or perhaps he just likes beating people up.

    Here Israel caught a break, he could have taken out his frustrations by walking into a bank and blowing half a dozen people away.

  3. Taxi
    July 31, 2013, 11:18 am

    They have this video as a major story on all the TV channels in the mid east today – stations have been airing it every half hour during headline summery time. I watched it only once while I was having my morning coffee. I don’t mind to tell you that it made my blood boil to the point where I wanted to punch the jugular of that gestapo in civilian clothing.

    And I don’t buy the “flashback” trauma spin. This is exactly what happens to people who are proudly immersed in a culture built by paranoia, predatory violence and bizarre subconscious guilt. We’ve seen this kind of despicable and senseless assault on innocent Palestinians from millions of israelis over the past 65 years. We’ve heard a long litany of hasbara excuses justifying their grotesque sadism.

    I challenge any zionist on the face of the earth to watch the linked video and deny the brutal nazism practiced by israelis.

    • Annie Robbins
      July 31, 2013, 12:35 pm

      They have this video as a major story on all the TV channels in the mid east today –

      i know, i googled it in arabic and it’s everywhere and nowhere in english.

      I don’t buy the “flashback” trauma spin. This is exactly what happens to people who are proudly immersed in a culture built by paranoia, predatory violence and bizarre subconscious guilt.

      this is about a justice system which will accept the most ridiculous stories, basically anything, to either acquit or give unreal light sentences to any jewish perp while at the same time hold palestinians for months and years with nothing, no charges, no evidence, nothing.

      even w/evidence like this, and the video of the assault was originally 10 minutes, the guy basically walks with the equivalence of a slap on the wrist. it’s gruesome.

    • American
      July 31, 2013, 3:50 pm

      ”I challenge any zionist on the face of the earth to watch the linked video and deny the brutal nazism practiced by israelis.”…Taxi

      Waste of time…..the zios like all bullies , believe that any people who believe in fairness or mercy are ‘weak’ and deserve what they get.
      But the bullies days are numbered…….just wait and have patience and let them have plenty of rope to hang themselves by.

  4. OlegR
    July 31, 2013, 11:29 am

    He got 2 month in jail and 4 month community services.

    • Annie Robbins
      July 31, 2013, 12:35 pm

      your point? had a palestinian done this to a jew they’d be in jail for longer than a decade. show me one ‘defense’ of ‘flashback trauma’ used to plummet a jewish israeli with a 2 month sentence by an israeli judge. it’s apartheid.

      are you rubbing salt on a wound? is that what you’re doing? bragging how a jew can assault palestinians in the apartheid state you defend day in and day out. it makes my blood boil. you should be ashamed.

      and this is going on while palestinians just got convicted w/strong sentences for killing a jewish murderer in the middle of him massacring palestinian women and children. you know that right?

      http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4411362,00.html

      what a glaringly hypocritical demonstration of the juxtaposition of israeli/zionst racist ‘justice’.

      • OlegR
        July 31, 2013, 1:10 pm

        There was no point that was a factual statement since the article
        did not contain any info on the sentence.

        Sorry it caused you a little tantrum…

      • Annie Robbins
        July 31, 2013, 1:41 pm

        There was no point that was a factual statement since the article
        did not contain any info on the sentence.

        it did not contain “and 4 month community services. ” but it does contain the information he got a two month sentence. read the second blockquote in the article.

  5. piotr
    July 31, 2013, 11:34 am

    Transliterating Hebrew may be tricky in the case of vowels, but I think that Gerschkowitz served in Kfir Brigade (Lion Cubs) and not in Kefir Brigade (highly recommended Bulgarian beverage made of fermented milk). Wiki has a quite informative entry about Kfir Brigade. Its task is to control various areas in West Bank, and the training is for “anti-terrorism and urban warfare”. The Wiki entry has a link to an article in Jerusalem Post. I found two passages to be interesting:

    The most serious [incident] took place in the village of Dahariya last year [2007], where a platoon commander commandeered a Palestinian taxi and ordered his soldiers to shoot an innocent Palestinian bystander. Dan [interviewed soldier, freshly from France] said that he was in shock when his unit was deployed in the West Bank, not due to the abuse of Palestinians but the exact opposite. “I was shocked how well the Palestinians were treated at the roadblocks,” he said. “The soldiers are in a very difficult situation and nevertheless do all they can to treat the Palestinians with respect.”

    I am always more interested in the “norm” than in “incidents”. Here I was quite shocked that Dan was shocked. What kind of mindset experiences a shock upon being ordered to treat people “with respect”: without spitting and swearing at them? Recruits in Kfir Brigade spend seven months in training prior to deployment, and apparently during those seven months they are not prepared to treat people normally.

  6. American
    July 31, 2013, 11:54 am

    Sounds like a cop out defense to me…..flash backs and PTSD are the result of the trauma of being ‘under attack’ and exposed to the carnage resulting from it.
    So what was he having flash backs of?…kids throwing rocks at him?

    • piotr
      July 31, 2013, 1:16 pm

      It is also possible that it was much worse than “kids throwing stones”: many hours spent on checkpoints while being forbidden by the platoon commander to mistreat (or properly treat) the Palestinians. As I was citing above, it was a shocking experience for Dan from France.

      By the way, as military sentences go for incorrect interactions with the enemy population, two months is actually very stiff. For example, this is what you get for subjecting a native to bestial tortures over five days, eventually killing the person, IF you are terribly unlucky (US military in Afghanistan, search for Dilawar). I would conclude that this defense did not help at all.

  7. amigo
    July 31, 2013, 12:30 pm

    “The soldiers are in a very difficult situation and nevertheless do all they can to treat the Palestinians with respect.”

    The double lie.

    Honestly, you couldn,t dream this s–t up.

  8. amigo
    July 31, 2013, 12:44 pm

    Hopefully when he gets his just dues there will be a camera at hand so we can all enjoy watching.

    • john h
      August 1, 2013, 12:48 am

      And what would those just dues be, amigo?

      • amigo
        August 1, 2013, 4:41 am

        Look at the video again (?) and imagine you are one of those Palestinians at the mercy of this Zionist supremacist, then tell me what his just dues might be.

        Personally, I hope some day he finds himself surrounded by enemies not willing to tolerate his fascist actions and beat the hell out of him.

        I have no problem with that at all.

        What would you do?. Name a street after him.

      • john h
        August 2, 2013, 12:49 am

        That’s playing by their rules. Descending to their level. Vigilante justice. It would just continue the spiral.

        Force him and all Zionists to play by our rules, which would result in their vacating any rights to rule Palestine, other than via democratic election.

        The rule of law with courts to try war criminals and other riff raff like him. Real justice.

        Name a street? Nah, bring back Palestinian names and promote the history Zionists have tried to hide and erase.

      • amigo
        August 2, 2013, 6:56 am

        “That’s playing by their rules. Descending to their level. Vigilante justice. It would just continue the spiral.”john h

        John, since when is it vigilante justice to fight back and beat the hell out of someone who is beating you.

        I like your street name idea.

      • john h
        August 2, 2013, 5:17 pm

        vigilante n. someone who takes the law into his/her own hands by trying and/or punishing another person without any legal authority. In the 1800s groups of vigilantes dispensed “frontier justice” by holding trials of accused horse-thieves, rustlers and shooters, and then promptly hanging the accused if “convicted.” [thefreedictionary]

        You were looking at a “fighting back” scenario. I was looking at ultimate justice.

        Maybe what you’re talking about is “natural justice”. Meaning, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Indeed.

  9. Abdul-Rahman
    July 31, 2013, 2:34 pm

    Of course this criminal, coward and thug would need to have his American supplied M-16 assault rifle fully ready as he assaults unarmed day laborers, who are already living under the uncountable number of guns of the terrorist gang calling itself the “IDF” and their fascistic settler cohorts.

    http://972mag.com/two-sides-of-the-same-coin-how-soldiers-and-settlers-complete-each-other/75967/

    http://972mag.com/israeli-inaction-enables-settler-violence-against-palestinians/76374/

  10. joer
    July 31, 2013, 3:14 pm

    The two month sentence speaks to Israel’s enlightenment and humanity, taking the soldier’s PTSD into account and tempering justice with mercy during his sentencing. I just wonder if that enlightenment will be evident if one of the victims of his rampage has his own battle with PTSD and throws a stone at a car sometime in the future. Or does PTSD only effect those who commit attrocities, and not their victims?

    • valency
      July 31, 2013, 11:05 pm

      Exactly: A few months in the territories creates “flashbacks” that excuse a vicious and violent assault. So what does a lifetime in the territories do to you? But of course, only Jews suffer from “flashbacks.” Palestinians are motivated purely by their cthonic, irrational hatred of Jews.

  11. frankier
    July 31, 2013, 5:14 pm

    … what a man… I wonder how he would fare without his gun…
    Luckily for him, his friend talked him some sense…

    This guy’s behavior looks a lot like the IDF Major’s (with his screeching voice) who was eventually dismissed by the IDF… (I believe there was a video a few months ago of him beating civilians with his gun’s butt who were biking and peacefully protesting).

  12. eGuard
    July 31, 2013, 5:51 pm

    It occurred: 16 April 2009. Conviction: 7/7/2013. They needed over four years, or fifty months, for the verdict?

  13. just
    July 31, 2013, 7:24 pm

    Yeah and SSgt Bales massacred Afghan innocents too. Dilawar was murdered by the US.

    This fool of an IOF’er wants to go home and play video games and attend the College of Management Academic Studies in Rishon Lezion. He’s not suffering from PTSD anymore than Bales is.

    These sociopaths just hate. They are goons like the ones at Abu Ghraib and at Guantanamo. Disgusting.

    2 months is nothing to a thug like the one captured above. Neither Israel nor the US has a clue……..such “democracies”, indeed.

    Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are being punished for telling the TRUTH.

    How did we get it so WRONG?

    • piotr
      August 1, 2013, 12:42 pm

      As similar cases go, it is actually a stiff sentence. The key element was that Michael was off duty, unlike the murderers of Dilawar. Because we discuss democracies (Israel, US) part of the problem is that the majority wishes to have “rule of law” but also to have crimes committed for (what they believe to be) their benefit. So Col. Eisner was on official mission when he was beating up bicyclists, while Gerschkowitz was not. Eisner was guilty of executing his mission without proper elan and aplomb, looking on a video like an overweight shorty with Sampson complex, so he was removed from field command to desk duty.

  14. jon s
    August 1, 2013, 2:18 am

    Here are two follow-up notes (and I anticipate all the cynical reactions):
    1.Michael Gershkowitz , interviewed by Channel 10, expressed total remorse. He said that when he saw the video he wept, that not a day goes by that he doesn’t wish he could undo what he did, and that he’ll take whatever punishment “like a man”.
    http://news.nana10.co.il/Article/?ArticleId=995374&sid=126
    The item is around 28′.
    2. The prosecution is considering appealing the leniency of Gershkowitz’ sentence.

    • Cliff
      August 4, 2013, 7:21 am

      He will serve a light sentence like all Israeli Jews usually do when they abuse Arabs.

  15. Citizen
    August 1, 2013, 2:22 am

    Himmler was deeply concerned about the mental state of his SS troops.
    German soldiers in close proximity to Japanese troops in China were traumatized by the daily atrocities the Japanese troops inflicted on the local civilians.

  16. Daniel Rich
    August 1, 2013, 3:44 am

    Fortunate this Storm-trooper’s flashbacks on how to inflict maxim pain on innocent victims, did not suffer any visible setbacks.

    Would he have dared to do the same thing, had those Palestinians been armed as well?

    Very, very sick/ening.

  17. amigo
    August 1, 2013, 5:19 am

    Slighly off topic but of interest I would say.

    “IDF legal adviser: Detention of 5-year-old Palestinian boy was legitimate
    Detention of child in Hebron meant to ‘thwart a security threat,’ IDF’s legal adviser says, but adds that soldiers erred in detaining boy’s father; B’Tselem: Soldiers committed ‘grave errors.'”

    The Israel Defense Forces’ detention of a five-year-old Palestinian boy in Hebron earlier this month was a legitimate step in order to “thwart the threat posed by the activities of a minor,” the IDF’s legal adviser in the West Bank has ruled. Haaretz

    Link-http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.538995

    Didn,t take long clearing those IOF-ERS did they.

  18. giladg
    August 1, 2013, 6:14 am

    Something does not make sense with this story. First of all the soldier deserves the punishment he got and I would have lengthened his time in jail.
    I would not be surprised if he staged this incident in order to get thrown out of the army. The army would never sanction the type of behavior and action seen in the video. The soldier is clearly unstable and does not represent anyone but himself. In this case, the reference to “flashbacks” is a load of nonsense.
    On the positive side, at least he did not shoot the workers as probably would have happened in Syria or Iraq.

    • Talkback
      August 1, 2013, 1:51 pm

      You even sound more pathetic than an IDF speaker. Have you ever served in Israel’s official state terrorist organisation, by any chance?

    • Cliff
      August 2, 2013, 6:23 am

      To summarize the Zionist’s apologetics above:

      1. It was staged.
      2. The IDF would never ‘sanction’ that type of behavior (whatever that means).
      3. The soldier is not representative of trends in behavior.
      4. The flashbacks are nonsense.
      5. Typical white-washing/something somewhere else is worse.

      @1
      It wasn’t staged.
      @2
      The IDF doesn’t have to sanction this sort of behavior. It’s pervasive within the IDF and soldiers are almost always given lenient sentences. The IDF is a terrorist organization.
      @3
      The soldiers in the IDF regularly abuse civilians, kill civilians, and get off with slaps on the wrists.
      @4
      I agree the flashbacks are nonsense because Israel isn’t fighting some immensely powerful guerilla force. It’s fighting women and children mostly. It’s blowing up women and children mostly.
      @5
      Israel’s crimes are colonialism and slow-motion ethnic cleansing. Israel’s strategy is to establish facts on the ground that make a Palestinian State impossible. Israel prefers to do this over time and not by extreme violence in one sitting. It’s politically and strategically better for Israel to slowly destroy the Palestinians and rob them rather than to do it in a 1948 Nakba style.

    • piotr
      August 2, 2013, 9:14 am

      I think that “normal” parts of the story are more revealing than the “aberrant”. The penalty the soldier received is quite normal. The “flashback” defense is puzzling, I do not think that the sentence was in any way reduced. I do not recall anything major happening in West Bank in that period, if there was any truth to the statement I would suspect the initial military training as the reason. The members of Kfir brigade are trained in “anti-terrorist actions and urban warfare” and deployed to control the civilian population. They are brainwashed to see every non-Jew in the territories as the terrorist, and enemy. This is intense seven month training.

      The “interesting” part is the behavior of the Palestinian laborers. They do not resist, they are terrorized from the start. They know that if they would be “uppity”, anything may happen to them, including killing with impunity and worse (being classified as a terrorist, having the family home destroyed and so on). I am not sure if a Syrian or Iraqi soldier would survive such an attack on fellow citizens. Basically, this is an entire population living with traumatic stress.

  19. jon s
    August 2, 2013, 2:26 am

    Talkback, who are you addressing? I served in the IDF.

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