Monday, January 15, 2007

Two IDF officers get probation over deaths of Palestinians in 2002

21:50 15/01/2007

By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent

An Israel Defense Forces Armored Corps battalion commander, whose soldiers fired tank shells that killed four Palestinians in Jenin in 2002, recently plead guilty to negligence and was sentenced to three-months probation and a censure.

A company commander, who also plead guilty to negligence, was sentenced to probation and was demoted to second lieutenant.

The prosecution agreed to the deal due to difficulties in proving the connection between the officers' negligence and the deaths of the Palestinians.

In June 2002, shortly after Operation Defensive Shield, a brigade commander instructed the armored battalion under his command open fire, in order to disperse a number of civilians who were violating a full curfew in Jenin.

The battalion commander passed the order on to his troops, and emphasized that the fire must be directed at the "hazard barrier" (i.e. to an area a short distance away from the civilians).

However, the battalion commander was accused of failing to pass on the remainder of the instructions, which placed additional limitations on the fire.

One of the tanks fired on civilians in the Jenin market, killing a 53-year-old man and three children. Five additional civilians were injured.

The brigade commander faced disciplinary proceedings in connection with the deaths, and was exonerated of any wrongdoing.

The special military court issued a gag order on the identities of the officers involved (despite the fact that the brigade commander's name has already appeared in the press), citing concerns that they could face attempts to try them abroad.

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