Israeli soldier suspended over assault


Israel's army said today it has removed a senior officer from his post after he was caught on film striking a Danish pro-Palestinian activist in the face with a rifle.

A video broadcast across the internet and on television stations showed Lt-Col Shalom Eisner, a deputy brigade commander in the occupied West Bank, hitting the Andreas Ias (20) with an M-16 rifle during a protest on Saturday.

Mr Ias, who was treated in a Palestinian hospital, claimed the attack was unprovoked.

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other leaders quickly condemned the incident which took place during a rally against Israeli roadblocks in the territory.

</p> <p>"It has been determined by the Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Benjamin (Benny) Gantz, to dismiss Lieutenant Colonel Shalom Eisner from his post as Deputy Division Commander on moral grounds," said a military statement in English.</p> <p>Israel's Army Radio said he would remain in the armed forces but would be barred from senior command roles for the next two years.</p> <p>"It's a bad feeling," Mr Eisner told Israel Radio after receiving news of his dismissal.</p> <p>Local media had quoted family and friends of Mr Eisner saying the video did not tell the whole story and that his fingers had been broken by one of the protesters.</p> <p>Human rights organisations often condemn Israeli military behavior toward Palestinians and foreign activists in the West Bank but Israel says its soldiers act with restraint.</p> <p>About 500,000 Israeli settlers and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in a 1967 war. Palestinians want the territory for an independent state along with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.</p> <p><strong>Reuters</strong></p>