Israel charges soldiers with misconduct in Gaza war
JERUSALEM — Israeli army prosecutors on Thursday charged two soldiers for using a young Palestinian boy to check for booby-traps during last year’s fighting in Gaza, a military spokeswoman told AFP.
She said the two soldiers, both staff sergeants, were charged of acting “in breach of military norms” for forcing the boy to open bags they feared might be rigged with explosives.
Israeli army radio said the boy was nine years old.
The bags turned out to be harmless.
No date was set for the trial.
Israeli human rights group B’Tselem welcomed the move, but said an independent inquiry into the Gaza war was still needed.
“Military police investigations are not the appropriate instrument to investigate allegations regarding operation Cast Lead,” B’Tselem said in a statement in reference to the code-name of Israel’s Gaza offensive.
“Israel must appoint an Israeli body, external to the army, to conduct an independent and effective investigation,” it said.
The military said that it began its investigation of the incident in June last year. The probe was unrelated to a UN fact-finding mission which was visiting Gaza at the same time.
The UN mission, headed by South African former judge Richard Goldstone, later filed a report which concluded that both the Israeli military and Palestinian militants committed war crimes during the 22-day conflict that erupted on December 27, 2008.
Some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed during the offensive which Israel launched in response to rocket attacks from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.