JERUSALEM, April 18 (Xinhua) -- Israel's military chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz on Wednesday afternoon ordered to dismiss a senior officer from his post, after he was filmed hitting a pro- Palestinian activist with his weapon over the weekend.
A video posted on YouTube on Sunday showed Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner, deputy commander of the army's Jordan Valley Brigade, striking Andreas Ias in the face with the butt of his M-16 rifle during a confrontation near Jericho in the West Bank a day earlier, when several dozen Palestinian youth and foreign activists held a bicycle protest ride.
Danish-born Ias, who was lightly wounded in the incident, on Monday refuted Eisner's claim that he had attacked the latter and broke his hand as a "fabrication." The video also documented soldiers blocking the protestors' path and confiscating their bicycles.
Gantz decided to remove Eisner from his post "on moral grounds" after an investigation led by top brass found "professional and command flaws" in his conduct, the army said in a statement.
Eisner was slated for promotion to deputy commander of the army 's officer school later this year. Aside from losing his current post, he will be barred from holding command positions until 2014, the statement said.
The officer responded to the news of his dismissal with surprise, telling associates it was not the outcome he expected.
"I thought they accepted my version of events and understood it. They showed me the door out. I need to digest the decision and then play my future," The Times of Israel quoted Eisner as saying.
On Tuesday, Eisner told Israel's Channel 10 that his decision to beat the Danish activist while cameras were present at the scene was an error in professional judgment, not a moral failure.
The officer also harshly criticized the army's chief and top brass for their response to the incident, which captured front- page headlines in Israel in recent days, accusing them of prioritizing media image over the mission.
A defense official responded to Eisner's claims, saying he violated the army's code of conduct. "That is not the behavior we expect from a senior officer," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday.
On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the officer's actions, saying that his conduct "does not characterize the army's soldiers and commanders, and has no place in the military or in the state of Israel."