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IDF Colonel Cites Double Standard over Orders to Beat Palestinians

An Israel Defense Force colonel charged at his court-martial trial Wednesday that a “double standard” was practiced regarding the beating of Palestinian activists in the West Bank.

According to Col. Yehuda Meir, the official policy, formally enunciated for the record by senior officers, restricted beatings to riot situations, but unofficial orders were to apply beatings as a punitive measure.

Meir is charged with ordering his troops deliberately to break the bones of Palestinian detainees in the West Bank villages of Beita and Huwara, near Nablus, in January 1988, a month after the intifada began.

He said such unofficial orders were communicated orally in small groups.

Meir was cross-examined by the chief military prosecutor, Col. Menahem Finkelstein.

He was shown documents proving that the commander of the central region at the time, Maj. Gen. Amram Mitzna, and the commander of the Samaria district, Brig. Gen. Ze’ev Livne, issued explicit orders restricting the use of physical punishment.

Finkelstein quoted a directive by Mitzna that the ban on beating people in IDF custody “must be emphasized to the last soldier.”

Meir responded that “in every forum where minutes were kept, efforts were made to say the right things. But in the field, other things were said.”

But he could produce no documents to support his contention that orders to beat Arabs were transmitted orally.

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