(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)
Today, Tuesday, September 21, 2004, an IDF soldier was sentenced to an active prison term of six months and a suspended sentence of one year for violent behavior at the Hawara checkpoint at the entrance to Nablus. The soldier was convicted of assault, damage to property, and unbecoming conduct, following numerous instances of violent behavior towards Palestinians crossing at the checkpoint, and for breaking the windows of Palestinian taxis at the checkpoint.
The defendant served as the commander of the Hawara checkpoint at the time of the incidents. Due to his failure as a commander, the soldier was demoted to the rank of private.
Several incidents in which the defendant was involved were filmed by the Education Corps, which was preparing an instruction video at the checkpoint.
The court ruled that the defendant completely and shamefully failed in carrying out his duty, acting in a violent and disgraceful manner. The soldier acted out of a distorted operational perception, but also in a way which he vented his frustration on those passing through the checkpoint. The court ruled that the acts of violence committed by the soldier were blatant and clearly forbidden. IDF soldiers are ordered to preserve the dignity of the Palestinian population, notwithstanding the difficult circumstances in which they operate.
At the same time, the court took into consideration the difficult circumstances at the checkpoint, the fact that the defendant served as combat soldier, and his personal circumstances.
The court noted that preserving human dignity is a fundamental value which must be preserved. The court ruled that the crimes of which the soldier was convicted were severe and required sentencing which would also serve as a deterrent. The court also took into consideration the mitigating circumstances. In all, the court saw fit to sentence the soldier to a significant prison term. Due to his failure in command, the court decided to demote the soldier.
The court rejected the defendant’s assertion that he was a scapegoat and that he was convicted of crime committed by all soldiers. The court explicitly ruled that the defendant is not a scapegoat, because he is being punished for his crimes alone, not for crimes committed generally by all soldiers. Any other soldier committing such crimes would be similarly punished.