Friday, April 30, 2010

Israel / Palestine

Israeli Soldiers Given Minor Reprimands over Shooting of Palestinian Civilians
By Catrina Stewart
The Independent, April 28, 2010
"Israeli officers held responsible for the deaths of four Palestinians in the West Bank received only minor reprimands after an internal investigation concluded that the deaths could have been avoided. Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Israel's military chief, admitted that the incidents last month 'could have ended differently' and could have 'avoided causing harm to civilians.' The two fatal shooting incidents, just 24 hours apart, marked the most serious escalation of tensions in the occupied West Bank in months, and threatened to destroy the fragile calm that has persisted there in recent years. In one case, Israeli soldiers fired on Palestinian protesters, killing two. In a second incident, a soldier killed two Palestinians who he claimed had tried to attack him. Mr. Ashkenazi reprimanded two senior officers -- a colonel and a lieutenant colonel -- and removed a squad commander from his post, a military statement said. The soldiers who fired the lethal rounds appeared to escape censure.
Israeli human rights organisations denounced the military investigation, claiming that it failed to hold the soldiers accountable for their actions and upheld the army's culture of impunity. 'It is extremely rare for the Israeli security forces to be held accountable in cases where they have killed or injured Palestinian civilians,' said Sarit Michaeli, a spokeswoman for B'Tselem, an Israeli NGO. She said that the army should open criminal investigations into both cases rather than conduct 'internal operational debriefs' that skirt the legal issues regarding the soldiers' actions. 'There are credible allegations, these must be investigated,' she said. [...]"

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