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Israeli soldiers convicted over 'human shield' boy

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Israeli soldiers convicted over 'human shield' boy


Two former Israeli soldiers have been given three-month suspended jail sentences for using a Palestinian boy as a human shield as they searched for explosives.

They forced the nine-year-old to open suspected booby-trapped bags during the war in Gaza.

After the court-martial ruling, their supporters said they were acting during a hard war.

“What we need now is to understand that they are soldiers, they are fighters, they maybe made a mistake, but they are not criminals,” said Uzi Dayan, a former Israeli deputy chief of staff.

In January 2009 Majed Rabah was ordered by the soldiers to check baggage for hidden explosives as the military stormed this block of flats.

“A soldier grabbed me (by the collar) and took me into the basement,” said the boy as he re-visited the scene. “He told me to open the bags, I opened one but couldn’t open the other. He slapped me across the face, then moved back and fired at the bag.”

Rabah was later returned to his family unharmed. The verdict did not mention whether any explosives were found.

The sentence means the soldiers go free, but will serve a minimum three months in jail if they commit another crime.

They were also stripped of their ranks as reservists.

The boy’s mother said the sentences were too lenient; she wants the soldiers prosecuted internationally for war crimes.

Israeli army radio reportedly described the sentences as “light”.

Israel claims it has conducted nearly 50 internal inquiries into alleged misconduct by troops during the war in Gaza, and argues its forces acted with restraint.

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