Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 June 2019

Israeli news anchor says occupation of Palestinians turns soldiers into 'animals'

The woman was reacting to news of five soldiers charged with beating Palestinian detainees

Oshrat Kotler is under fire for comments made about the Israeli military. Wikimedia Commons 
Oshrat Kotler is under fire for comments made about the Israeli military. Wikimedia Commons 

An Israeli news anchor has sparked the ire of the country’s right-wing after claiming that the military occupation of the West Bank turns soldiers into “human animals”.

Oshrat Kotler, the anchor for Israel’s Channel 13 news, caused controversy by taking aim at the institution beloved by nationalist Israelis: the military.

"When you send your children to the army, they are kids, you send them to the territories and they come back as human animals, and this is the result of the occupation," Ms Kotler said.

She was responding to a report that five Israeli soldiers had been indicted for beating up Palestinians detainees.

Her remarks were so controversial in Israel that they drew a reaction from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"I am proud of the IDF soldiers, I love them very much," he said in response to her comments. "Kotler's words deserve every condemnation."

Even further to the right, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the pro-settler nationalist, called for Israel’s Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit to put Ms Kotler on trial under Israel’s defamation laws. He called her comments libel and slander of the military.

Israel has maintained an occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

Thousands of troops protect a vast network of Jewish settlements built on occupied Palestinian land. The Palestinians fear that this settlement network is being built with the sole aim of

Rights groups have detailed how Israel continues to commit human rights violations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Restricting access for Palestinians on a daily basis, raids on family homes, shootings at checkpoints and house demolitions are several of the violations that Israel is regularly accused of.

The Israeli right regularly defends Israeli soldiers for their actions in the territories despite convictions through the Israeli justice system. Israeli soldier Elor Azaria was filmed in 2016 shooting a Palestinian in the head at point blank range.

Right-wing Israeli politicians lobbied for a presidential pardon and he was eventually released after just nine months, a much shorter sentence that was anticipated by rights groups and the family of his Palestinian victim.

Updated: February 18, 2019 06:29 PM