Israeli officer to stay in army despite shooting
· Soldier charged with unworthy conduct
· Blindfolded Palestinian hit with rubber bullet
* Toni O’Loughlin in Jerusalem
* The Guardian,
* Friday August 8 2008
* Article history
An Israeli officer involved in the close-range shooting of a blindfolded and cuffed Palestinian man has escaped criminal charges and will remain in the army.
Battalion commander Omri Borberg, who was accused by the army of “severe moral failure”, will be reassigned to another post and will face the relatively minor charge of “unworthy conduct”.
Last month Borberg was recorded on video as he held a Palestinian protester, Ashraf Abu-Rahma, by the arm while another soldier fired a rubber bullet into the captured man’s foot. The shot bruised his toe.
Abu-Rahma had been protesting against Israel’s construction of its barrier on Palestinian land in the West Bank village of Ni’ilin, where the confrontations between Israel’s military and demonstrators have increasingly become violent.
Last week a 10-year-old boy and an 18-year-old man were fatally shot in the head in separate incidents in Ni’ilin.
The Israeli human rights groups B’Tselem, Yesh Din, the Association for Civil Rights, and the Public Committee Against Torture attacked the army’s disciplining of Borberg as lenient.
“If that officer had been caught smoking hash they would not only have been discharged from the army but they would also spend two or three months in prison,” said Yesh Din’s legal adviser, Michael Sfard.
“The charge of inappropriate conduct is something extremely minor with no criminal record if you are found guilty,” he added.
B’Tselem’s spokeswoman, Sarit Michaeli, said: “The father of the young woman who filmed the incident is still under house arrest. Three days after [B’Tselem] released the video the father was arrested at a protest. He is charged with various offences; they’re not as severe [as the charge against Borberg] but he has been remanded in custody.”
The soldier who shot Abu-Rahma in the foot, and who was under Borberg’s command, also faces military charges. He alleges that he fired the bullet after Borberg said: “Shoot a rubber bullet at him.”
Together, the four human rights organisations are to mount a case in Israel’s high court to intervene in secretive military court procedures in an attempt to charge Borberg with a criminal offence.
Borberg said he had resigned from his post “for the good of the soldier, the battalion and the army”, but Israel’s military spokesman would not confirm whether the resignation was voluntary. “I see myself serving for many more years at the heart of military activity,” Borberg said.
Meanwhile, Israel’s defence minister, Ehud Barak, ordered military forces to demolish the home of Ala Abu Dhaim, the East Jerusalem Palestinian who gunned down eight students in the Merkaz Harav yeshiva in March. It marks a return to the policy of using demolitions in retaliation for terrorist attacks, which was abandoned in 2005 after it was deemed ineffective.
The homes of the two Palestinians, who in separate incidents rammed Israeli civilians with bulldozers, killing three and injuring dozens more, are also due to be destroyed.
Jerusalem’s mayor, Uri Lupolianski, said: “The demolition will serve as a clear message that the families of every terrorist who goes out to attack and murder Israelis will also be harmed.”
When Nazis rule in the name of the Devil, expect no justice for “Gentiles.”