(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))
Two combat soldiers from the Givati Infantry Brigade who ordered a nine-year-old
Palestinian to open boxes and suitcases they feared were booby-trapped during
Operation Cast Lead in 2009 were convicted Sunday of overstepping their
authority, endangering a life and inappropriate conduct.
On January 15,
2009, the soldiers told the boy in Gaza City to open the boxes, which proved to
be harmless, according to the charge sheet filed by the Military Prosecutor’s
Office with the Southern Command Military Court in Kastina, near Kiryat
2 soldiers indicted for Gaza actions
Cast Lead warfare misconduct trial opens
The charges carry a maximum penalty of three years in
The military judges wrote in their ruling that “the testimony of
the Palestinian child was credible, and he answered questions in a coherent and
clear manner. We have fully accepted his testimony.”
Testimonies by the
defendants, on the other hand, were “full of contradictions, unconvincing,
artificial, confused and hesitant,” the judges said.
The soldiers had
been told before the offensive began that they were forbidden to use civilians
as human shields, the judges said.
The defendants, identified only as
“St.-Sgt. A.” and “St.-Sgt H.,” have completed their mandatory military
They were supported by family and friends, and their former
commander, Yoni Lichtman, all of whom appeared in court with T-shirts carrying
the slogan, “We are all victims of Goldstone.”
Speaking to Channel 10
after the conviction, Lichtman said the ruling was an injustice to the soldiers,
and that the judges had merely responded to international pressure on Israel
following Operation Cast Lead.
“Without the Goldstone Report, we would
not be in this embarrassing situation.
Now their future is in
The court is attempting to please the world,” he
“They put their lives on the line. All of these things took place
in a battle zone... These are people who set out to protect us,” Lichtman
He blasted senior Givati Brigade commanders and IDF brass for
“abandoning these soldiers” and “failing to come and support them.”
soldiers were also convicted of firing into one of the suspect suitcases near
the Palestinian boy, endangering his life, Channel 10 reported.
sergeants came under investigation before the UN’s Goldstone Report was released
in September 2009. The IDF probe was opened based on information in a report
compiled by a special United Nations representative appointed to investigate
matters involving children and armed conflict, and following a specific
complaint filed by the Israeli branch of Defense for Children
Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.