(photo credit: AP)
Givati Brigade commander Col. Moni Katz and hundreds of IDF reservists arrived
on Monday at the Southern Command Military Court in Kastina, near Kiryat Gat, to
protest the ongoing trial of two soldiers who have been convicted of using a
Gazan boy as a human shield during Operation Cast Lead in January
RELATED:2 soldiers convicted of using boy as human shieldIDF’s ethics guru slams High Court ban on human shields
The sentencing stage began on Monday.
The soldiers, who
cannot be identified, were found guilty two weeks ago of exceeding their
authority by ordering a nine-year-old boy to open bags they suspected might be
booby-trapped near his home in Gaza City’s Tel al-Hawa
Military prosecutors requested on Monday that the court
imprison the soldiers and demote them to privates for violating human rights and
the IDF’s code of “purity of arms.”
“They are treating me like a war
criminal who needs to pay dearly for years to come,” one of the soldiers
The other soldier told the court, “We feel as though we are victims
of the Goldstone Report.”
The defendants, identified only as “St.-Sgt.
A.” and “St.-Sgt H.,” have completed their mandatory military service. The
charges carry a maximum penalty of three years in prison.
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.”
The two 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
UN representative appointed to investigate matters involving children and armed
conflict, and following a specific complaint filed by the Israeli branch of
Defense for Children International.
On Monday, as the military prosecutor
began the sentencing phase of the trial‚ Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan,
former deputy chief of General Staff, testified in support of the
He later said that the IDF has entered a “lethal legal
nightmare” by allowing 600 soldiers and officers to be questioned by Military
Police since the end of Operation Cast Lead.
“I do not know these
soldiers but felt that there is a need to give them support. Even if they did
something wrong, they are not criminals,” he said. “We need to return to the
time when the commander is in charge of investigating operational incidents and
not everything needs to go to a trial.”
As the court held session,
demonstrators outside held signs reading, “Soldiers for Soldiers,” and “Every
Mother Should Know that Her Son has Been Abandoned,” a play on a famous saying
by former prime minister David Ben-Gurion that Jewish mothers should know that
they are leaving their sons in the trustworthy hands in the IDF.