Mr. Rabin and senior military commanders have maintained that the beatings were allowed only while soldiers were trying to overpower and arrest Palestinians throwing rocks and firebombs. Once an arrest was made, they said, no further hitting or clubbing was permitted.
But his account has been contradicted by testimony at the trial of one officer, Col. Yehuda Meir, who is being court-martialed for reportedly ordering his troops to arrest Arabs and then break their arms and legs.
Soldiers testifying at Colonel Meir’s trial said Mr. Rabin and other senior commanders told them privately that beatings should be used to punish Arabs known to be troublemakers.
Lieut. Eldad Ben-Moshe, a company commander under Colonel Meir, testified in April that he was told by Colonel Meir to ”break the arms and legs” of Arabs ”because the detention camps are full.”
Early this month another officer, identified only as Lieut. Col. Zvi, testified that in January 1988, Mr. Rabin ”told me to lash into them forcefully and beat them,” without restricting the beatings in any way.
In Parliament today, Mr. Rabin said, ”To the best of my memory, I never once said anywhere that bones should be broken.”