Soldier ‘electrocuted’ detainee? Not really

A report carried on Israel's Channel 2 news last week and then quoted by Iran's Press TV featured video of an IDF soldier connecting electrodes to the neck of a bound and blindfolded Palestinian prisoner who is seen kneeling on the floor. The soldier reportedly tortured the prisoner with electric shocks, as his friend videotaped the abuse.

The two soldiers involved, who belong to the Netzah Yehuda Battalion, were put on trial by the Military Prosecution last November, along with three other soldiers who allegedly took part in abusing prisoners, chiefly by hitting and kicking them. The soldier who videotaped the "electrocution" was sentenced to seven months in jail last week, after the judges ruled that the act was humiliating, degrading, and cruel.

While the image conjured up by the "electrocution" story was that of a Clockwork Orange-type, sadistic torture, worthy of ISIS, the truth behind it is different.

The device that the soldier was using is a TENS – or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation – machine. The soldier told the court that he uses the machine to help him cope with chronic knee pain.

The TENS is not used for inflicting pain but for relieving it. It is described on governmental websites as a method of pain relief involving the use of a mild electrical current and is considered safe for use by non-professionals, who are often given the machine to use at home, just like the soldier was. The sensation described by patients who use it is one of tingling, not pain. The hand held, AAA battery-powered machine delivers the mild current through wires connected to adhesive electrode-patches that the patient sticks onto his skin.

The soldier told the court that he wanted to scare the prisoner with the current – not to hurt him. He said that he and his friends use the machine on each other sometimes as a prank.

Needless to say, attempting to scare a prisoner by use of mild electric currents is illegal, immoral and stupid, if only because of the needless humiliation involved. There is also psychological torture involved, since the prisoner most likely had no way of knowing if the current could indeed become painful. However, by airing the video and describing what transpired in an incomplete way, Channel 2 played into the hands of professional Israel-bashing channels like Press TV.


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