The Israel Defense Force announced Sunday the arrests of two soldiers charged with burying alive four Palestinian youths near Nablus on Feb. 5 and said “additional arrests were expected.”
The youths were rescued by Palestinian villagers.
According to the announcement, “the investigation has been given the highest priority.”
Gen. Amram Mitzna, commander of the central sector, which covers the West Bank, told Israel Radio Monday that he was shocked by the reported incident.
“Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined such a thing,” Mitzna said. He said he understood that a military government sergeant and two or three other soldiers will be put on trial.
None of the soldiers has been identified, but a Jewish settler from the Gush Emunim settlement of Eilon Moreh near Nablus was named as an accomplice. The settler, Nissim Haba, has denied the allegation.
According to unofficial accounts, the incident occurred when several soldiers remained in Salem village after IDF troops quelled Palestinian rioting there. Villagers claim the troops called in a bulldozer to erect an earth rampart around the village, which had been placed under curfew.
Soldiers accompanied by Haba reportedly entered homes in the village and ordered youths to clear away burning tires and rock barricades. The youths reportedly threw rocks at the bulldozer and its driver.
Villagers said the youths were beaten by the soldiers and Haba.
An IDF officer referred to as “Charlie” then ordered the youths to lie on the ground, where soldiers stomped on their legs and heads and clubbed them. Charlie reportedly ordered the bulldozer to run them over, but the driver refused.
Finally, he ordered the bulldozer to dump earth on the youths. They were covered by about three feet of earth while Haba shouted encouragement, accounts of the incident said.
The youths, who lost consciousness, were dug up by villagers after the troops left and taken to a hospital.
Haba, speaking on Israel Radio, denied he took part in the act, but seemed to corroborate that it occurred, claiming he was about 300 yards away from it. He said he was named by the villagers because he was known to them.
Haba’s 8-year-old son was found beaten to death last year near Eilon Moreh. He is believed to have been the victim of terrorists. No arrests have been made in the unsolved case.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.