Area of incident in Gaza
Photo: Muhammad Sabah, B'Tselem
Soldier charged with manslaughter 'fired at feet first'
Indictment filed against Staff-Sgt. S. says he fired at upper body of Palestinian carrying white flag in violation of protocol, direct orders

An indictment has been filed against an IDF soldier who fought in Operation Cast Lead, charging him with manslaughter and conduct unbecoming in an incident in which a Palestinian was shot to death near Gaza City.


The indictment claims the soldier, named only as Staff-Sergeant S. of the Givati Brigade, shot at the victim's upper body in violation of his commanders' orders and without receiving a command to do so. If S. is found guilty he could serve a prison sentence of 20 years.


The indictment says the incident began when a number of soldiers, among them officers, noticed a group of Palestinians marching with a white flag about 250 meters away from them.


The soldiers heard gunshots, and S. fired two or three times in the air. When the Palestinians continued walking S. fired at their feet, the indictment says, and then when they still did not halt, he fired at the upper body of one of the men without receiving orders to do so.


The soldier's attorney, Meir Klinger, said the prosecution had filed a "virtual" indictment. "It includes no specific time, no documentation, no complaint from the Palestinian side, no victim identification, no body, and no proof of death," he said.


"Even if death could be proven, there is no proof of the cause of death, and there is no proof the bullet fired by my client caused the death, because at the time there were many people firing simultaneously."


The attorney added that the Givati soldiers had received warning of a possible suicide attack about to take place at their location, under the guise of innocent civilians. The orders were not to allow anyone to come within 100 meters of them.


He said the Palestinians had received ample warning not to come any closer, and continued to progress despite this. "The defendant understood at this point that the move he must make is to fire," he said.


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