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New footage emerges of Eisner attacking activists

April 20, 2012 3:47 P.M. (Updated: April 21, 2012 8:33 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- An Israeli human rights group has released new footage of a dismissed army officer striking activists with his gun, days after his assault of a Danish national drew wide condemnation.

The footage, taken by the Palestinian Authority's official television network and released by the Israeli rights group B'Tselem, shows Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner striking several foreign solidarity activists with a machine gun.

Eisner holds his M-16 rifle in both hands and shouts at a group of demonstrators taking part in a bicycle rally in the northern West Bank, before suddenly striking several people.

The video also shows soldiers tossing bicycles over a railing after the event was disrupted.

The activists were near the Jericho village of al-Auja, but the soldiers refused to let them start a cycling tour which was organized by youth group Sharek and the al-Auja environmental center.

"Following this serious event, it has been determined by the Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Benjamin (Benny) Gantz, to dismiss Lieutenant Colonel Shalom Eisner from his post and that he will not be eligible to serve in commanding positions in the next two years," Israel's military said Friday in an emailed statement.

"Simultaneously, an investigation that will study all the testimonies of the incident has been opened by the Military Investigative Police, and the results will be handed over to be examined by the Military Advocate General's Office."

At the time, Israeli military spokesman Yoav Mordechai said the first edited video did not reflect the whole story.

"These are harsh pictures, but I still can't divorce the filmed episodes from the incident that lasted over an hour and which included violence by the anarchists and Palestinians, (though) this does not justify what we see."

On Wednesday, the prime minister in Ramallah, Salam Fayyad, met with Andreas Ias, the 20-year-old Danish activist who was initially thought to be the only person who was attacked by the officer.

Fayyad condemned the attack and all of Israel's "continuous violations" against foreign activists, including the recent efforts by Israel to prevent over 1,000 visitors from visiting Palestine.
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