An IDF military court Sunday morning convicted two Givati soldiers for violating rules of conduct by sending two Arab children to examine suspected bombs during the Operation Cast Lead counterterrorist campaign nearly two years ago.
Friends of the soldiers appeared in court with shirts proclaiming, “We are victims of Goldstone," referring to the United Nations-sponsored report authored by Judge Richard Goldstone, who accused Israel of committing war crimes during the three-week battle.
The soldiers were accused of using the children as human shields, a practice prohibited by the IDF. The Goldstone report, numbering nearly 600 pages, focused on Israeli soldiers and only parenthetically mentioned the massive rocket fire on Israeli civilians from Hamas-controlled Gaza that brought on the operation. The report also said it found almost no concrete examples of Hamas using people as human shields, despite dozens of videos and photographs which the IDF provided as evidence of such behavior and of other war crimes.
Military spokespersons said that despite the predicament of soldiers facing bombs in places populated by civilians, officers instructed their troops not to deploy Arab civilians, especially in situations that could threaten their lives. The children were told to open suitcases and other containers in a neighborhood in Gaza.
The soldiers face possible prison sentences of up to three years, but they might receive a suspended sentence. The soldiers pointed out that the boys suffered no injuries in the operation, and their lawyer charged that the soldiers are being sacrificed to satisfy international demands for convictions of Israelis.