Two Givati soldiers indicted last week for "using" a child to open bags suspected of being booby-trapped during Operation Cast Lead learned of the serious charges filed against them in the media. They claim their commanding officer had not informed them of the decision to bring them to trial.
The two soldiers have kept silent since the indictments were published, but people close to them say that they were stunned both by the fact of being accused and by the way they were treated in the IDF after their service in the elite unit.
They are both experienced soldiers who were discharged a year ago after completing their mandatory service, and both participated in Operation Cast Lead, during which the misconduct was alleged to have taken place.
About three months after being released, they were asked to present themselves for investigation with the military police, when they were informed of the charges against them.
According to the indictment, the events took place as the unit tried to take control of a building in the Tel Hawa neighborhood in Gaza. The two soldiers instructed a nine-year-old child to open some bags suspected of being booby-trapped. Then they moved the child away and fired at one bag the child had been unable to open.
A few months later they were surprised to learn of the charges of misconduct and overstepping authority to the point of endangering life. At first they did not know that the initials on the indictment referred to them, and received no notification from their commanding officer or any other IDF source.
An army source clarified that according to the law, the military court is responsible for informing the accused. It is thought that the military prosecutor filed charges now in order to remain within a year of their release, after which it would not be possible to submit any indictment against them.
According to an investigation by Ynet, they served in the same unit as a soldier accused of looting a credit card during the operation, but there is no connection between the two incidents.