A video clip caught Israeli soldiers threatening a Palestinian teen with their dogs, prompting a former Knesset member to launch a social media campaign and the army to call for an investigation.
The incident is alleged to have occurred last December in the southern West Bank, between the Palestinian village of Beit Ummar and the Israeli settlement known as Karmei Tzur.
The video shows one soldier holding 16-year-old Hamza Abu Hashem by the arm while another urges two large dogs to bite him. One soldier is heard to say “Who’s the coward chicken now?” as the dogs tear at the youth’s clothes, another soldier yells, “get him, get him”.
Hashem was being arrested for throwing stones when the incident occurred. The 16-year-old, who was treated in hospital for injuries resulting from the arrest, was subsequently sentenced to six months in prison and a fine of 4,000 shekels. Israel’s military prosecution have appealed against the verdict, and are demanding that it be increased to a minimum of 18 months.
After right-wing Israeli activist Michael Ben Ari learned of the video, he tweeted, “The soldiers taught the little terrorist a lesson!” He asked his followers to spread the video so that “ever little terrorist who plans to harm our soldiers learns the price.”
According to human rights NGO B’tselem, the soldiers had GoPro cameras on their helmets, and questioned whether the army didn’t know about the soldiers’ behavior well before the video came to light.
The army spokesman’s office commented that after receiving the video clip, the army ordered an immediate investigation of the incident. “Upon conclusion, lessons will be drawn and the necessary steps will be taken to prevent a recurrence of such incidents,” the statement read.
The appeal has yet to be decided – Hashem has been held in Israel’s Ofer Prison since his arrest in December 2014.
The Israeli military stopped using dogs during demonstrations in 2012, but still deploys them during arrests.