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IDF to Rotate Units in Territories to Avoid Outcome of Frustration

March 3, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Israel Defense Force has decided on a rotation policy so that no single unit will spend more than six consecutive weeks on duty in the administered territories, Haaretz reported Wednesday.

According to Haaretz, the new policy is the outcome of an incident filmed by a CBS television crew at a military prison near Nablus last week, in which four soldiers were shown beating and kicking two handcuffed Palestinians detained for questioning.

Haaretz, quoting ranking IDF sources, said the lesson learned from the film, which was shown in Israel and abroad, was that the accumulation of frustration and anger was partly responsible for the behavior of the soldiers, who had spent two consecutive months in the territories, during the worst of Arab rioting.

This anger and frustration was released by beating the two Palestinians who were arrested for throwing stones at soldiers, the IDF sources said.

Gen. Amram Mitzna, whose command covers the West Bank, ordered his field commanders to view the film. It will eventually be shown to all soldiers in order to make clear the limits of proper and improper conduct.

But a backlash of criticism against Mitzna has developed within the IDF for his decision to arrest the four soldiers involved and free the two Palestinians, Haaretz reported. The soldiers were released from custody Monday, and the decision whether to press charges was left to the military prosecutor.

The timing of the arrests was criticized in IDF circles. The soldiers were taken into custody while on leave. One was arrested at home, in the dining hall of Kibbutz Gesher, in the presence of many kibbutz members. Critics say the arrests should have been made when they returned to their units Sunday, if at all.

But other IDF sources are defending Mitzna against criticism by politicians. The general was attacked by several members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday.

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