UPDATE: Israeli soldier fired for assaulting Danish activist

A video circulating the internet shows an Israeli solider hitting a young Danish activist in the face with a gun in a seemingly unprovoked attack

UPDATE: APRIL 19, 9:54AM: The Israeli soldier caught on tape assaulting a Danish activist has been fired. Israeli news site Ynet News reported yesterday that Lt.-Col. Shalom Eisner has been relieved of his duties with the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) for “operational and ethical failures”. Ynet quoted Eisner as saying he “received the ruling in the matter with a heavy heart. I’m physically and emotionally hurt and I have to recuperate. I have to reconsider my future in the IDF, should I be offered another position.”

ORIGINAL STORY: APRIL 17, 10:58AM A 20-year-old Danish activist who was assaulted by a soldier in Israel on Saturday has said that the allegation that he first attacked the soldier is a “lie”.

Andreas Ias was with a group of activists attempting to bicycle through the West Bank when they were stopped by Israeli soldiers.

In a video that is circulating on the internet (see it below), soldiers can be seen blocking the progress of the activists before one of the soldiers, Lt.-Col. Shalom Eisner, suddenly hits Ias in the face with his M16 rifle.

The video of the unprovoked attack, which gave Ias a split lip, has caused international outrage and even drew condemnation from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

“Such conduct is not characteristic of the soldiers and commanders of the Israeli military, and has no place in the army or the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said, according to British newspaper the Guardian.

The Danish foreign minister, Villy Søvndal, also released a statement.

“We are not aware of all the circumstances surrounding the incident,” he said. “The Danish ambassador has asked the Israeli authorities for an immediate explanation.”

According the Times of Israel, Lt.-Col. Eisner said what he did was a “mistake” though he justified his action by claiming Ias was the same activist who had broken two of his fingers in an earlier scuffle.

Ias replied by saying the allegation was “a direct lie”.

“If these claims had anything to do with reality, we would have seen documentation by now,” Ias said, according to the Times of Israel.

Speaking with reporters on Monday, Ias said his group of activists were stopped by the Israeli army after “participating in a peaceful activity, a bike ride through the Jordan Valley to visit different Palestinian villages”.

Ias added that after waiting for a half hour, the activists decided to try and pass the soldiers.

“They reacted immediately with brutal violence,” Ias said. “A soldier punched me in my face with his M-16 rifle. I fell to the ground and was carried away from the scene, into the ambulance.”

Eisner has been suspended while military police investigate the incident, though 83 of his former colleagues have released a letter expressing their support for him.