Footage of Israeli soldiers violently beating and insulting a Palestinian father and son during an arrest in January was released on Tuesday by an Israeli district court, according to Haaretz.
In the video, filmed by one soldier, four soldiers from the ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda battalion are seen repeatedly beating the blindfolded and handcuffed father and son over the head, kicking them, and hitting them with their weapons.
The soldiers can be heard laughing and mocking the pair, saying “it’s a celebration” and “say hello” to the camera.
The incident took place on January 8th, weeks after two soldiers from the Netzah Yehuda battalion were killed in a shooting attack in the occupied West Bank.
The soldiers on video, reportedly friends of the two killed in December, had allegedly arrested the father and son on suspicions they were connected to the December attack, though it was later found the two were innocent and had no involvement in the attack.
Haaretz reported that the two Palestinians, whose identities remain unknown, were too badly beaten and could not withstand interrogations, and were thus taken to Israel’s Shaare Tzedek Medical Center shortly after the incident.
One of the two was so badly injured that he was hospitalized for three days.
The high-profile case came to a head on Sunday when the court convicted four of the five soldiers on charges of aggravated abuse. They are expected to serve six months in prison.
Meanwhile, the fifth soldier, purportedly the one who filmed the abuse, was convicted of abuse and sentenced to just two months in prison for the “relatively minor” role he played, Haaretz reported.
Haaretz added that the commander of the soldiers was indicted last month for “failure to prevent a crime, negligently causing injury and conduct unbecoming an officer,” resulting in his suspension.
“The commander noticed his soldiers enacting harsh violence against the Palestinian detainees, while they were handcuffed and blindfolded, and despite this did not prevent them from continuing to beat them,” Haaretz quoted the indictment as saying.
While the case of the five soldiers has made waves in Israeli media as a one-off case of soldiers trying to avenge the death of their friends, Palestinians are saying it is more of a reflection of the policies of the Israeli army in general.
And while it is rare that soldiers are actually convicted for their abuse of Palestinians, the beating, harassment, and humiliation of Palestinian detainees during their arrest is commonplace.
Rights groups have long document the rights violations that take place during the arrest of Palestinians, including children.
Defense for Children International — Palestine (DCIP) has said the following of Israel’s detention of Palestinian minors:
“The majority of children are detained from their West Bank homes during the middle of the night by heavily armed Israeli soldiers. Several hours after their arrest, children arrive at an interrogation and detention center alone, sleep deprived and often bruised and scarred. Interrogations tend to be coercive, including a variety of verbal abuse, threats and physical violence that ultimately result in a confession.”