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IDF Snuff Culture II:

Trophy Pictures with a Severed Head

The photograph which has reached Kol Ha'ir remains unpublished. In another incident, soldiers from the Nahal regiment's patrol unit killed Palestinian Policemen at night, and sprayed them with bullets the next morning. Major Hanan: the very discussion is proof of our morality

Uri Blau and Yosi Saidov, Kol Ha'ir

15 Feb. 2002

Soldiers at the Haredi Nahal post in the Jordan Valley defaced the corpse of a Palestinian suicide bomber who attacked not far from their base. According to testimonies and photographs that have reached Kol Ha'ir, the soldiers toyed with the Palestinian's head, which was severed from his body, placed a cigarette in his mouth, transferred it to their watch out post, dozens of meters away, and posed next to it for trophy pictures. Other testimonies indicate further violations of human dignity.

On August 8, 2001, at about 9am, a Palestinian car made its way towards the Bqa'ot military check point from the direction of Nablus. The speed it was going at aroused suspicion among soldiers at the checkpoint, and one of them approached the car to search it. At that moment, the Palestinian man in the car detonated an explosive device, killing himself, and injuring the soldier.

"We were very excited by this," said one of the soldiers, a Platoon Commander at the same unit. "It was the Haredi Nahal's first experience of actual fire. After he exploded we placed a cigarette in his mouth, took his head to the guard's booth at the check point, and took our pictures with it."

The same commander also told Kol Ha'ir of instances of harassment and malicious damaging of property by Haredi Nahal soldiers at that time. Among other things, soldiers poured sand and sugar into the engines of Palestinian vehicles. This latter habit was put an end to after high-ranking officers in the Valley Command discovered it.

Another soldier form the unit has told Kol Ha'ir of the following incident: "A Company Commander caught a Palestinian without a permit near Jericho, on the edge of Area C. Although it was obvious he wasn't a terrorist, he was cuffed, and a sack of cloth was placed on his head. After that they released him."

Soldiers have also told Kol Ha'ir of an order they had received to confiscate knives found in Palestinian vehicles. Some of the soldiers went beyond the order and confiscated all items of cutlery they could find.

A photograph of soldier's posing with the Palestinian's head has reached Kol Ha'ir. Due to its pornographic nature we refrain from publishing it.

The army spokesman's response: "The issue is not known in the IDF. If more details, and more accurate information about this would be supplied, the claims will be checked again. It must be emphasized that the IDF educates its commanders and soldiers to guard human dignity, and sees this as an ultimate value." Aha.

Another case of corpse defacement by a different unit has recently been revealed by an internal army investigation report. According to this report, soldiers in Sayeret HaNahal special patrol unit performed kill-confirmation on two Palestinian policemen they'd killed, and shot at their bodies again several hours later.

This happened during the Sayeret's incursion into the village of Bayt Rima, on October 23 and 24 2001. In the report, the unit's commander, Major Hanan, determined there was no need to shoot at the bodies. Yet, in his conclusion, the Major says he is satisfied with his unit and adds that the very discussion of this issue is an indication of the IDF's professional and moral standards. Investigations by higher-ranking officers have made no reference to this issue.

The policemen were shot outside the village's Council Hall, which was surrounded by the patrol unit. Many troops from the Nahal regiment, Mista'arvim, and other units also participated in the incursion. Five Palestinian policemen were killed, six were injured, and eleven wanted men were detained. In addition, three building were demolished by bombing.

Under the heading "Human Dignity and Weapon Purity" in the report, Major Hanan wrote: "The armed men who were killed fell down on their weapons, this made them suspicious, and confirmatory neutralizing [Sic.] was performed on them in daytime too. Because confirmation was [already] performed at night, this was unnecessary." Further down the report he wrote: "This was discussed in the unit from every angle - including the risk to our forces. I am glad this issue was brought up and showed us the complexity of the issue, including the risk to our forces, it is an indication of our strengths as a professional and moral army."

The question of kill-confirmation and shooting at corpses, as described in the Sayeret report, was not discussed in the comprehensive investigation of the operation by Colonel Yair Golan. This report was passed on to the Central Command's Commander in Chief, a Maj. General, and to the commander of the West Bank forces. Colonel Golan's report goes through it briefly: "At the Council building the force addressed the PPs [Palestinian Policemen] on a loudspeaker telling them to get out. There began an escape from the building, and the clicking of firearms was heard. The Eastern enclosure force shot at two armed PPs and killed them."

The army spokesman: "The details of the investigation are classified, in the light of the operational details and the operation components detailed therein, and the IDF does not intend to reveal them."


Kol Ha'ir Magazine is published on Fridays by the Schoken Local Press, there is no on-line edition, the staff can be contacted by email.