Investigation promised after activist assaulted

Tue, Apr 17, 2012, 01:00

The Israeli army has suspended a senior officer after a video was posted on YouTube showing him smashing his M-16 rifle into the face of a pro-Palestinian Danish activist.

The incident happened on Saturday during a bicycle ride by more than 200 European, Palestinian and Israeli activists in the West Bank.

Scuffles broke out when the Israeli army stopped the group close to Jericho, and the video clip shows Lt Col Shalom Eisner hitting the Danish activist, Andreas Ias (20), in the face with his rifle. Mr Ias, who was treated in a Palestinian hospital, claimed the attack was unprovoked.

Lt Col Eisner, the deputy commander of the army’s Jordan Valley brigade, claimed he “acted instinctively” after his fingers were broken earlier by the activist, a member of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement.

Israel’s top general, Lt Gen Benny Gantz, condemned the incident as “extremely severe” and promised a thorough investigation.President Shimon Peres expressed shock and outrage, and prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu also condemned the incident.

A number of rabbis criticised the army’s decision to suspend the officer.