By Lilach Shoval
(JNS) Three soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces’s ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda Battalion were convicted on Thursday of abusing two Arab terrorist suspects, after accepting a plea deal with military prosecutors.
Under the agreement, the soldiers pleaded guilty to aggravated abuse in the January incident and will receive 190 days in prison, a demotion in rank and probation, but will avoid more serious assault charges.
Their sentencing hearing was scheduled for Sunday.
The three soldiers were part of a group of five servicemen in the battalion who were arrested in January and charged with severely beating two suspects believed to have assisted a terrorist who had killed two of their comrades in December.
On Dec. 13, Palestinian Authority terrorist Asem Barghouti opened fire at a bus stop outside the Givat Asaf outpost near Ramallah, killing two soldiers—Cpl. Yosef Cohen and Sgt. Yovel Mor Yosef—stationed there and seriously injuring a third serviceman and a civilian woman, according to the IDF.
The two other soldiers indicted in January have yet to reach similar plea agreements with military prosecutors, but the two sides were still working to negotiate one, an IDF official said.
According to the indictment, the soldiers allegedly slapped and punched the prisoners, with their hands as well as blunt instruments, while the prisoners were handcuffed and blindfolded.
Reports from the time the soldiers were arrested on Jan. 9 said that the prisoners sustained injuries so serious they were no longer fit for questioning.
The soldiers’ commanding officer, a lieutenant, has also been charged with failing to prevent the assault, despite knowing that it was occurring.
At the hearing, one of the convicted soldiers said the trauma of losing their friends in a terror attack prompted the abuse.
“We drove past the Givat Asaf bus stop with the bullet holes and everything just came to the surface. This incident was totally unlike me,” the soldier said. “I regret it.”