Cast Lead warfare misconduct trial opens

2 Givati soldiers accused of forcing Palestinian child to open suspicious bags.

March 24, 2010 18:39
1 minute read.
The Jerusalem Post

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The trial of two Givati soldiers accused of using a nine-year-old Palestinian boy to open bags to check if they were booby-trapped during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip last year began Wednesday with both defendants declaring their innocence.

One soldier said he felt hurt and betrayed at the very fact he was being tried. “Too bad things have come to this,” he said at the trial, adding that the State “needs to come to its senses, realize who is for it and who is against it. You work for the state and get stabbed in the back.”

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According to the charge sheet that was filed by the Military Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday, the two soldiers – both staff sergeants - ordered a child to open bags which were suspected of being booby-trapped while searching a building in Tel al-Hawa, a neighborhood in the south side of Gaza City.

The two soldiers came under investigation before the Goldstone Report was released last September. The investigation was launched based on information revealed in a report compiled by a special United Nations representative appointed to investigate matters involving children and armed conflict as well as following a specific complaint filed by the Israeli branch of Defense for Children International.

“These are combat soldiers who were in a very difficult position and still acted in a highly moral fashion," the father of one of the defendants said. "The situation was of combat involving civilians. No one was hurt, and I think the military has blown this all out of proportion.”

“If the soldiers were at fault, it was no more than an error in judgment,” said Ilan Katz, a lawyer representing one of the soldiers. He added that the soldiers’ version is simple: they fought for two straight weeks, they were conducting a search, found some people with bags, asked someone of indeterminate age to open the bags, while opening an unopened bag themselves. No harm was done, the lawyer added.

Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to the report.

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