In February 1988, four soldiers from the Givati Brigade were filmed brutally beating two young Palestinians near the town of Nablus. The images of the incident sent Israel, and the world, into turmoil. Although the episode occurred in the early months of the first intifada, which erupted in late 1987, it eventually became a symbol of the uprising and presented Israelis with a harsh picture of what was happening in their backyard. It was the first time that the moral cost of the occupation was so clearly exposed.
The trial of the soldiers, the “best of our boys,” received extensive coverage from media around the world. The soldiers were eventually convicted and sentenced to prison. How different that seems from today, when a soldier who shot an incapacitated Palestinian in Hebron on March 24 has become a hero to the masses. Anyone who empathized with the soldiers during the first intifada did so mainly because of the impossible situation facing those young men under 20 years of age, who were expected to confront a hostile Palestinian population on a daily basis.