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Na'alin 'Foot Shooting' Commander Won't Be Demoted

Lt.-Col. Omri Borberg's promotion will be slowed but he will retain his rank, military court decides.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 1/27/2011, 5:11 PM

 

A special military tribunal in the Kiryah, Tel Aviv, decided Thursday that Lt.-Col. Omri Borberg, who was implicated in an incident involving alleged mistreatment of a detainee, will retain his ranks. However, he will not be allowed to command a combat unit for one year, and his advance in the ranks will be put on hold for two years.
 
The incident involved the shooting of a rubber-coated bullet toward the feet of a detainee during violent Arab riots at Ni'lin (also spelled Na'alin), not far from Modi'in. Borberg, the battalion commander, did not fire the bullet but the court determined that he had told another soldier to do so in order to frighten the detainee and cause him to stop participating in the violent riots. The detainee was not hurt. Borberg denied that he had told the soldier to fire the bullet.
 
Borberg was found guilty of attempted threats and improper behavior toward a bound captive in the 2008 incident, which was partially caught in videotape by an Arab camerawoman. The camera was supplied by B'Tselem, a group largely dedicated to showing the IDF in a bad light.
 
The judges said that Borberg had "hurt human dignity, failed and caused the soldier under his command to fail, and contributed to the damage to [the IDF's] public image." They took into consideration, however, his past devoted service and contribution to the IDF and rejected the Military Prosecution's request that Borberg be demoted and sentenced to public service.  
 
Borberg had turned to the judges with tears in his eyes and said, "I ask you, let me continue to be a combat soldier and continue in a command role... Do not give me a sentence that will cut off the road I have been walking down for 15 years. Demotion means the end of my road in the IDF."