(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)
This morning, November 30, 2004, an investigation was conducted by the head of the central command, Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinski, regarding the documented incident at the Beit Iba checkpoint, in which a Palestinian man is shown playing a violin. The investigation found that the Palestinian arrived at the checkpoint and was asked by the soldiers to open the violin case. The Palestinian opened the case and started to play the violin of his own volition. Several moments later, the Palestinian was asked by the liaison officer to stop playing.
The investigation was based on testimony of the soldiers who were at the checkpoint at the time of the incident, footage filmed by the women of "Mahsom Watch" and a letter written by the women of "Mahsom Watch" which supports the soldiers’ testimony, pointing out that the Palestinians was not asked to play the violin.
The liaison officer who checked the Palestinian has been performing his duties professionally over a long period of time. His commanding officers and the Palestinians with whom he works have often praised his work. The investigation was conducted a week after the incident occurred, since the IDF wished to conduct a thorough investigation which would include all relevant testimony.
The GOC Central Command accepted the findings of the investigation conducted by the brigade, which notes that the incident appears to show lack of sensitivity, but in fact there was no intention to dishonor or disrespect the Palestinian.
IDF activity at checkpoints is complex and difficult, and it poses numerous dilemmas for all personnel involved. The checkpoints are a necessity for security, and are designed to prevent terrorists, weapons and ammunition from entering Israel. The checkpoints have been proven effective on numerous occasions, especially the ones around Nablus.
IDF soldiers come in contact with the Palestinian population on a daily basis, and any contact with this civilian population raises complex dilemmas for those conducting the check, the checkpoint commander, and IDF forces. The challenge is for the IDF to carry out thorough checks in the interest of Israel’s security, while preserving the Palestinians’ dignity.
The IDF sees the operational investigations at the territorial command level as vital, especially for incidents which include moral issues. The IDF will continue carrying out all security operations necessary to providing the citizens of Israel with security. These activities include operations in crossings that are designed to prevent terror attacks within the State of Israel.