Israeli military commander loses post following rifle-butt incident

Lt.-Col. Shalom Eisner was dismissed from his command post following an investigation into an incident in which the Israeli soldier hit a Danish pro-Palestinian activist in the face with his rifle.

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz relieved Eisner of his position as deputy division commander on “moral grounds,” according to the IDF.

Eisner had been suspended from his post April 15, hours after a video of the incident was posted on YouTube by the International Solidarity Movement. The incident occurred during a protest bike ride in the Jordan Valley. Four activists were wounded, the daily newspaper Haaretz reported.

Eisner reportedly said he regretted the incident, but said the video represented one minute out of a two-hour event in which the protesters attacked the soldiers, breaking one of Eisner’s fingers and injuring his wrist. He is seen later in the video with his wrist and finger in a white bandage.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s office released a statement condemning the incident, saying that Eisner’s statements in defense of his actions “are not accepted by the defense minister and were never acceptable by the IDF.”

Approximately 200 activists, including Palestinians from the West Bank and foreign activists, rode bikes in the Jordan Valley on April 14 to protest what the ISM calls on its website “regular harassment and attacks from Israeli settlers and soldiers.” Israeli soldiers halted the activists, who were blocking the main thoroughfare to traffic, and began taking away their bicycles. — jta