Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 10:15 The Military Advocate General’s office decided not to file an indictment against the four Lavi Battalion soldiers detained on Monday, July 7 on
suspicion of assaulting an Arab resident of East Jerusalem as he was riding his motorcycle in the area of Halhul, north of Hevron. The Arab aslo claimed that his motorcycle was damaged in the incident. Attorney Chai Haber, who is representing the soldiers on behalf of Honenu said, “I hope that lessons will be learned from the false detention which damaged trust in the military system.”
The Military Advocate General’s office announced on Tuesday, July 22 that they would not file an indictment against the soldiers. Following the announcement the soldiers were released from the condition of being confined to their base and may return to active duty.
The commander of the company in which the soldiers are serving testified that the soldiers were stationed in the area of the incident at the time the complainant claimed that it occurred. Also the complainant claimed that one of the soldiers who assaulted him was red-headed and one of the soldiers detained is red-headed.
On Sunday, July 20 the Military Advocate General’s office filed a plaintiff’s affidavit according to which they intended to file an indictment against the soldiers and demanded that their remand be extended.
Despite the plaintiff’s affidavit, the military court accepted Haber’s pleas, ruled that the evidence in the case is weak and ordered the soldiers’ release to their base, to which they would be confined until the indictment was filed, which was scheduled for Tuesday, July 22.
During the entire length of the remand Haber pleaded that there was no evidence in the case linking the soldiers to the incident and that there was not even a certainty that the assault had occurred. Following a request by Haber, the attorney representing the soldiers on behalf of Honenu, the military police clarified the matter and discovered that the complainant does not have insurance for the motorcycle, which increases the suspicion that he falsely accused the soldiers in order to receive compensation from the army for damage caused to the motorcycle in some other incident. The possibility that the motorcycle is stolen is also being examined.
There were no witnesses to the incident itself and it was not documented on film, which increases the suspicion of a false complaint. The soldiers deny all connection to the incident. Additionally the complainant gave several contradictory accounts of the incident. On Tuesday, July 22 after repeated contacts with the Military Advocate General’s office Haber was informed that in the end an indictment would not be filed, but neither would the case against the soldiers be closed.
“Despite the release of the soldiers it is still not clear how the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the IDF allowed itself to conduct such a negligent investigation,” said Haber. “The investigation focused on one thing only – finding incriminating evidence at any price while completely ignoring any investigatory procedure that would not leave any doubt that the complaint was fraudulent and that none of the soldiers had any connection to the incident.
“I sincerely hope that the correct lessons are learned from this case so that in the future false detentions such as this one can be prevented,” added Haber. “Detentions which not only injure and disparage the soldier who was detained but also can damage the confidence that the public has in the military system in general and the military law enforcement authorities in specific.”
Honenu, which assists soldiers and civilians who encounter a difficult legal situation due to the complex security situation, is pleased that the Military Advocate General’s office rescinded its decision to file an indictment against the soldiers but also draws criticism on the serious injury caused to the soldiers.
“We regret that the CID and the Military Advocate General’s office insisted on leaving soldiers in remand for a prolonged period of time only because of what in the end was determined to be a fraudulent complaint by an Arab,” said a representative of Honenu. “We hope that the military system will cease to harass soldiers, which happens only because of the desire to please antisemetic and hostile organizations that harass IDF soldiers with the intent to obstruct their ability to carry out their duties, thereby endangering the security of Israel.”