Two Israeli soldiers given suspended prison sentences for using Palestinian child as human shield during Gaza war.An Israeli military court has handed down suspended prison sentences to two former soldiers who forced a Palestinian boy to search for suspected booby-traps during the Gaza Strip war.
The ruling, issued on Sunday by the Kastina military court, meant the ex-conscripts, who were last month convicted of reckless endangerment and conduct unbecoming, are free but face a minimum three-month jail term if they commit another crime.
They were also stripped of their ranks as reservists.
While taking part in Israel’s ground offensive against Hamas-led fighters on January 15, 2009, the two infantrymen helped storm an apartment building in the Gaza City district of Tel.
Rounding up residents, they ordered nine-year-old Majed Rabah to check baggage for hidden explosives, said the Israeli verdict, which drew on witnesses accounts.
When Rabah failed to open one bag, the soldiers pulled him back and shot at it, endangering everyone present, the verdict said. The boy was later returned to his family unharmed, and the verdict made no mention of any booby-traps being found.
The soldiers were discharged as first sergeants, and the court demoted them to sergeants. Israel Radio quoted them as saying they would continue to serve as infantry reservists, annual duties that entail training, patrols and even combat.
A military spokeswoman said their suspended sentence would be in force for two years, regardless of whether they are civilians or in uniform.
In Gaza, Rabah cried foul at Sunday’s sentence.