Four Israeli soldiers who were caught abusing and forcefeeding Palestinian detainees were sentenced Monday by a military court to a demotion of one rank and a small fine of less than $500 each. Prisoner rights advocates called the sentence an outrage.The four soldiers were originally charged with aggravated abuse, but that charge was lessened to ‘overstepping their authority’, which carries a much lighter sentence.
The Military Advocacy unit said that the sentence was too light, given the severity of the incident, and is considering appealing the sentence.
The case stems from a 2006 incident in which the soldiers, who were transporting 13 Palestinian detainees, forced the men to stand in a circle blindfolded and holding onto each other, while the soldiers forced food down their throats. The victims also say they were beaten by at least one of the soldiers.
The judge presiding over Monday’s sentencing hearing acknowledged the severity of the incident, but did not express any concern about the well-being of the Palestinian victims. Instead, Lt. Col. Roni Pinhas said the incident “damaged the image of the [Israeli military] and the State of Israel. These actions were carried out as a blatantly negative use of force and authority associated with the defendants’ roles while damaging the military and its discipline.’
But the judge said that even though the abuse was documented and severe, the sentences would be light because the perpetrators expressed ‘remorse’ for their actions and were no longer soldiers in the army. A fifth defendant in the case is still awaiting sentencing.