(AP Photo/Baz Ratner)
These three nondescript youths are Etai Brayer, left, Lior Kalbaris, center, and Arik Zaldati, right. They have admitted that about six weeks ago, in their other incarnation as Israeli Border policemen, they detained two Palestinian 17-year-olds in the West Bank village of Kfar Qatana. They took the two youths out of sight into a nearby forest, where they forced them to perform humiliating acts, kicked them, and clubbed them until they looked like this:
Normally, it's only the really severe cases of abuse that attract attention; "when someone ends up in the hospital," as Yael Stein of the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem puts it. But on this occasion, the victims had the presence of mind to go to a photo studio while their wounds were still fresh and, armed with their photographic evidence, decided to press charges (which is fairly unusual among Palestinians, who generally have little faith in the Israeli justice system).
Etai Brayer, Lior Kalbaris and Arik Zaldati made their first court appearance yesterday. One of their attornies offered the defence that such abusive conduct is simply a result of the "behavioral norms" of the Israeli Border police. Nine more members of the same Border Police unit are currently under arrest for beating and stealing money from innocent Palestinians. Let's hope their victims had the foresight to visit the photo studio too.