Israeli veteran, govt clash over alleged abuse of Palestinian

A Palestinian man shouts during a protest against closure of a road by Israeli troops south of the West Bank city of Hebron November 10, 2017. REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma
Updated 22 November 2017
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Israeli veteran, govt clash over alleged abuse of Palestinian

JERUSALEM: An Israeli ex-soldier who serves as a spokesman for a group that documents alleged abuses of Palestinians has set off a legal tussle with the Israeli authorities by saying he himself beat a detainee.
After Dean Issacharoff, a former army lieutenant, spoke of the incident in a speech uploaded to YouTube in April, the Israeli Justice Ministry took the unusual move of launching an investigation, with him as a suspect.
Issacharoff, the son of a senior diplomat, belongs to Breaking the Silence, a circle of army veterans that has long angered Israeli leaders by publicizing abroad what it says are confessions of war crimes in occupied Palestinian territory.
The group portrayed as another example of Israeli military excess Issacharoff’s account of what he said was his own beating of a Palestinian stone-thrower in the West Bank town of Hebron while trying to handcuff him in 2014.
But the Justice Ministry last week declared the case closed, saying questioning of the alleged Palestinian victim showed the event had never happened and that Issacharoff had made a “mendacious claim.”
On Twitter, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu celebrated the decision as “further proof Breaking the Silence lies and slanders our soldiers.”
Issacharoff retorted on social media that the ministry had questioned the wrong Palestinian — a man he had detained separately in Hebron around the same time.
Video
Breaking the Silence issued what it said was video of the right incident, showing Issacharoff frog-marching a handcuffed man. The Palestinian appears to have dark patches on his cheeks, which the group said were bruises from Issacharoff having kneed him. Issacharoff said he bloodied the Palestinian, though no blood is seen on the detainee in the footage.
Achiya Schatz, another Breaking the Silence spokesman, accused the Justice Ministry of clearing Issacharoff in order to discredit the group.
“This was a politicized investigation, made-to-order for the elimination of opposition (voices),” Schatz said.
Prosecutor Nurit Littman denied any bias and said Issacharoff’s testimony had been too sketchy to produce corroboration.
“We do not dabble in politics. We deal in evidence,” she told Army Radio, leaving open the possibility of a new investigation taking into consideration the new video.
Interviewed on Israeli television, the Palestinian, Faisal Al-Natsheh, said he had been detained though he had not thrown stones, and had been beaten by troops. He could not confirm Issacharoff was among them.
“They didn’t let me look at them, not even once,” he said.


Iraqi police arresting protesters in the south — activists

Updated 48 min 2 sec ago
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Iraqi police arresting protesters in the south — activists

  • The government rushed to contain the protests with promises of thousands of jobs, mainly in the oil sector
  • Basra is home to about 70 percent of Iraq’s proven oil reserves of 153.1 billion barrels

BAGHDAD: Iraqi security forces in the southern oil-rich province of Basra have started arresting protesters who took part in the week-long demonstrations there to demand more jobs and better services, activists said Monday.
Protests in the city of Basra, the provincial capital and Iraq’s second-largest city, are not unusual in scorching summer weather but they boiled over last Tuesday, when security forces opened fire, killing one person and wounding five.
Within days the rallies spread to other provinces. In some places, protesters broke into local government buildings and burned the offices of some political parties.
The government rushed to contain the protests with promises of thousands of jobs, mainly in the oil sector, and an urgent allocation of 3.5 trillion Iraqi dinars ($3 billion) for electricity and water projects. It blamed “infiltrators” for the damages.
The arrests started on Sunday night, with police chasing protesters down main roads and alleys following demonstrations in the city of Basra, and also in the countryside and around oil fields, two activists told The Associated Press.
The activists could not give a specific number for those arrested, saying only “hundreds.” They spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for their safety. Officials were not immediately available to comment.
The activists said Internet was back on after a two-day shutdown, but a heavy deployment of security forces outside the local government building in Basra prevented protesters from gathering there Monday.
Police also closed off surrounding streets with barbed wire.
Meanwhile, authorities reopened the country’s second-busiest airport, in the city of Najaf, following a two-day shutdown after a mob broke into the facility on Friday, damaging the passenger terminal and vandalizing equipment.
Transportation Minister Kadhim Finjan Al-Hamai was at the Najaf airport to announce the reopening on the Iraqi state TV as an Iraqi Airways plane landed behind him. He said 18 local and international flights were to land on Monday.
The shutdown had caused “heavy losses” to the government, the airport and airline companies, he said without elaborating.
Kuwait Airways, the Royal Jordanian and Iran’s Aviation Authority suspended their flights to Najaf on Sunday, citing security concerns. The United Arab Emirates’ FlyDubai canceled Saturday’s flights to Najaf and said it was suspending its flights until July 22.
Iraq’s vital Um Qasr port on the Arabian Gulf, and two main border crossings — Safwan with Kuwait and Shalamcheh with Iran — were closed to both passengers and goods as protesters had blocked the main roads leading to the sites.
Basra is home to about 70 percent of Iraq’s proven oil reserves of 153.1 billion barrels. It is located on the Arabian Gulf bordering Kuwait and Iran, and is Iraq’s only hub these days for all oil exports to the international market.