Haredi soldier to serve 7 months for beating Arabs

Defense attorney decries sentence as proving military court's disconnect from 'daily hardships' of combat soldiers.

Shlomo Piotorkovsky ,

Prison sentence (illustration)
Prison sentence (illustration)
Nati Shohat/Flash 90

A Netzah Yehuda soldier was sentenced Wednesday to seven months in prison for the beating several months ago of two Arab terrorists detained at the Harmash base in Samaria. 

He was also placed on six months probation and demoted to the rank of private after three military court judges convicted him of abuse and aggravated abuse. 

Judges Liet. Col. Ahsan Halabi, Major Eldad Emril and Captain Michael Ben Shimol wrote in the verdict that other combat soldiers need to be deterred from committing similar acts, especially given the recurrence of injuries to Arabs detained by the Netzah Yehuda battalion. 

"The need for deterrence should be obvious in this case, and the message needs to be given loud and clear," the judges wrote, explaining the reason for the harsh punishment imposed on the soldier. 

The defendant's attorney, Adi Keidar of the Honenu legal aid organization, managed to clear the soldier of two of the four counts on the indictment and he was eventually found guilty on only two counts. 

The soldier's commanding officer testified on his behalf, asserting "This is the best soldier there is, a soldier you can depend on, with a head on his shoulders, even during operational activities, which are very stressful and difficult situations."

Rabbi Yitzhak Bar Haim, co-founded of the Netzah Yehuda battalion, also testified, calling the soldier "righteous" and arguing the alleged offense was not characteristic and came as a result of stress. 

The rabbi pleaded for leniency given the stigma against haredi men in their army, asserting a tough verdict could do more harm than good in inspiring haredi families to send their children to the army. 

"The heroic parents, look at them. This is the public that's sending [sons] to the army. Will they send them now," Bar-Haim opined. 

In spite of Bar-Haim's pleas, the prosecutors demanded a severe sentence that would be served consecutively. 

Keidar accused the prosecutors of a disconnect from combat soldiers, asserting "The harsh sentence imposed on the soldier in this case reflects the trend of deterioration in military courts and the complete disconnect of the court and prosecutors to the harsh reality faced by combat soldiers during their daily activities."