Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett Flash 90

Jewish Home party head and Economics Minister Naftali Bennett weighed into the controversy over the punishment meted out to a soldier who was recorded clashing with Palestinian Arab youths in Hevron.

The soldier was reportedly dismissed from his post and could receive jail time, allegedly over an incident in which he reacted to provocations from Arab youths by cocking his rifle. 

The soldier's treatment by the army triggered widespread protests, both online and in Hevron itself. A Facebook page set up to support "David the Nahlawi" (a reference to the Nahal Brigade he is a part of), has garnered well over 88,000 likes within a day of launching.

And late last night Bennett joined that growing show of support, declaring: "I would have acted in the same way as David the Nahal Brigade warrior," on his Facebook page.

"He acted correctly," he continued. "What we see in the film is very simple... He was alone, surrounded by a number of violent Arabs and provocateurs. He did not open fire, (but) he took reasonable steps to protect himself and others around him and brought the incident to an end."

"In the background there were two cameramen, and not by chance," he noted. "The extreme-left thrives on smearing the IDF. This should draw condemnations from across the political spectrum."

IDF responds to 'incorrect' reports

Meanwhile, the IDF responded to the growing backlash over the incident by denying that the soldier's dismissal had anything to do with the incident in question.

Referring to the video of the Hevron incident, in a statement the army said that reports "David" had been disciplined as a result were simply incorrect.

"The soldier was punished due to violence towards his commander, unrelated to the recorded incident," it said. 

"We will investigate the recorded incident, as always, once the soldier returns to his unit. The investigation will be based on the professional norms and values of the IDF, and not on provocative recordings."

In a discussion Wednesday night with Chief IDF Rabbi Avichai Ronsky, David's commander confirmed the IDF spokesperson's version of the story. He told the rabbi that David had attacked two of his commanders, and had been court-martialled and punished for that offense, not for what the video showed. The commander said that he and his fellow soldiers expressed full support for him.

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