Israeli Soldiers Convicted of Using Boy as Shield
  Text size
JERUSALEM — An Israeli military court convicted two soldiers on Sunday of using a 9-year-old Palestinian boy as a human shield by forcing him to check bags for explosives in Israel’s 2008-9 Gaza war.

The court said that the two soldiers, both infantry sergeants, had taken part in an operation to seize an apartment building in Tel al-Hawa, a southern suburb of Gaza City, while under attack from Hamas fighters.

A summary of the court’s judgment provided by the military spokesman’s office said the two had rounded up civilians and come upon bags in a bathroom. They grabbed the child and ordered him to check the bags for booby traps.

“The boy, who feared for his fate and was pressured by the situation, wet his pants,” the judges said, pointedly noting that, “unlike the soldiers, the boy had no means of personal protection.”

After the boy emptied the contents of one bag and had trouble opening a second, one of the soldiers shot at the second bag. The boy was returned, terrified but unharmed, to his family.

Sunday’s convictions, which could carry prison terms, are the first serious ones in Israel’s criminal investigations into the conduct of its soldiers during the three-week Gaza invasion aimed at stopping rocket fire at Israeli communities. The army says it looked into 48 cases, and a third of them are still in progress.

In July, the army indicted several officers and soldiers for actions during the offensive, including a staff sergeant accused of deliberately shooting at least one Palestinian civilian who was walking with a group of people waving a white flag.

But human rights groups say that the military’s criminal proceedings are insufficient and that Israeli troops carried out a number of atrocities that require outside investigation.

The United Nations Human Rights Council commissioned a South African jurist, Richard Goldstone, to lead an inquiry into the war’s conduct. His report, issued a year ago, said there was compelling evidence of war crimes by both sides. It said that Israel had waged war on Gaza’s civilians and civilian infrastructure in an act of inexcusable collective punishment.

Israel, which declined to cooperate with that investigation, has rejected the report’s findings, saying it is looking into wrongdoing on its own. Some 1,300 Palestinians were killed in the war, many of them civilians.

The Goldstone report cited four episodes in which Israeli soldiers were said to have used Palestinians as shields, but those were all adults in other parts of Gaza.

At the military court where the two sergeants were convicted, several former comrades attending wore shirts with the slogan “We are victims of Goldstone.”


Source > 

Home  >  Worldwide                                                                               Back to top