Jerusalem: A young Israeli officer convicted for abusing a Palestinian minor in her custody while shouting anti-Arab slogans on Wednesday denied being a racist and said she wanted to apologise to her victim.
Shani Siviliya, 18, was convicted on Tuesday of putting her service pistol to the head of a 17-year-old Palestinian detainee in March and going through the motions of shooting him, shouting "death to the Arabs” and "Arabs are whores".
She also kicked, slapped and punched him.
"I don't know what came over me," she said in an interview with army radio.
"It's important to me to apologise to that youth. If I run into him in the court, I'll tell him I didn't mean to do it, that for a moment I was like another person... I'm not really a racist."
The youth, whose name was not published as he is a minor, was stopped by Siviliya and other officers at an East Jerusalem checkpoint and taken into custody when he was found to be carrying three firecrackers, media reported.
The reports said that in a plea bargain the court reduced a charge of assaulting a minor to that of abusing a minor, to which she pleaded guilty. A date for sentencing is yet to be set.
She told news website Y-net that her job in the security forces had numbed her to violence.
"You go into an Arab village and people throw fire bombs and debris from their rooftops, you feel helpless," she said. "If they had the opportunity to hurt me, they wouldn't think twice."
Sarit Michaeli of Israeli human rights group B'Tselem said that while Siviliya's actions were indefencible, there was also guilt at the institutional level.
"Obviously individual responsibility for violations of human rights by members of the security forces is crucial," she said. "But there is a point where the system is also equally to blame for this kind of behaviour, for a variety of reasons.”
First Published: Thursday, July 07, 2011, 13:23