Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner has finally broken down and let out everything he had been storing inside. In a phone interview with Channel 10, he shared his version of the incident in which he was captured on video hitting a Danish agent of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).
We present the Hebrew video and provide here a translation of the conversation.
News Anchor: Shalom, good evening. Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has postponed his decision regarding the officer who was videotaped hitting a demonstrator. Perhaps he would find interest in the following: Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner sounded today as if he did not have faith in the Chief of Staff or in the regional commander. He also expresses no regret, but rather thinks that thanks to him the demonstration was terminated. Here is the report of our military correspondent Ori Sharon.
Reporter: You have any message to express?
Eisner: I have many messages, and I’ll keep them for the places where I’m permitted to speak.
Reporter: In front of the cameras, Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner keeps those “many messages” for other conversations. A conversation like this one:
Eisner (in a recorded phone conversation): We know the history of these anarchists, they came with sticks and broke my hand, but this won’t be told or photographed.
Reporter: Not regretful, not sorry, he claims that only because of this act (cut to the famous gun-to-face shot) the demonstration was dispersed and route 90 remained open.
Eisner: It was a 2-minute confrontation, so it’s true that a few images there look bad, but in the end I used my weapon… I used my weapon not as a firearm, but as a stick. I didn’t kill anyone and didn’t endanger anyone’s life, in order to carry out the assignment and to prevent harm to my soldiers. My feeling is that the demonstrators themselves said afterwards that only because the Deputy Commander behaved this way they stopped the demonstration and stopped trying to break through.
Reporter: Against the background of the IDF disengaging from him, Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner is critical of the IDF top brass.
Eisner: All these stories don’t interest our Chief of Staff and my regional commander… Now, there are a few questions here. I said that it’s possible that I committed a professional error in judgment, using my weapon in front of the cameras, and so on. But I told my commanding officer, Agai (Lt. Gen. Agai Yechezkel, Chief of Brigade 261), that I emphatically reject the charge of a moral failure.
Eisner: (cont.) The question here is what’s more important – to carry out the assignment or to look good and photograph well? I argue that the assignment is more important, they argue that it isn’t. Maybe in this case I am wrong and they are right, as if it’s acceptable to allow damage to the State of Israel. Them I tell “as if,” you I can tell “for real.”
Reporter: Shalom Eisner accuses today, “the high brass don’t care that they broke my hand.”
Eisner: What, if they had taken videos of IDF soldiers capitulating before a mob, it would have sounded better? What, I’m now going to let them block highways? I’m going to let them risk lives? That does sound good? Someone gets his hand broken while on duty and the General doesn’t even – he knew well before those pictures were published, he knew my hand had been broken, he understood the meaning of the fact that anarchists broke the hand of a Lt. Colonel in the IDF. But nobody cared.
Later in the clip, Channel 10 news, which is probably the most left-wing of Israel’s major news broadcasts, provides written evidence from the Sha’arei Tzedek hospital doctor who mended Eisner’s broken finger. The reporter then concludes that at least on that count, Eisner spoke the truth.
"Actually, the only thing separating the highway from the cyclists is a row of soldiers."
Channel 10 interviewed one of Eisner’s soldiers, who was present throughout the lengthy incident on Saturday.
Soldier: We blocked the Valley highway. They demonstrated for an hour and a half. And then they decided they were going to enter by force into the Valley highway. Actually, the only thing separating the highway from the cyclists is a row of soldiers.
Reporter: So what happened in the hour and a half before the physical confrontation?
Soldier: Flags, songs, that’s all, really, nothing more. I know that the one who started the confrontation, let’s call it, were the cyclists who were trying to enter by force, through our unit, like.