Israeli news sources reported on Sunday, that two soldiers were convicted of following their actions in 2008 during Israel’s war on Gaza. Despite being convicted of using a nine-year old child as a human shield in Gaza in January 2009, but received only a demotion and 3-month suspended sentence as punishment.The incident in question occurred during Israel’s three week war on the Gaza Strip in December 2008 and January 2009, known in Israel as Operation Cast Lead. The men were convicted of using a nine year old Palestinian boy as a human shield, by forcing him to open a number of bags that the soldiers suspected contained explosives.
The term ‘human shield’ describes the act of a military group or personnel to either place civilians around a combat group to deter enemy fire or to literally shield their bodies using that of the civilian, and is illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The Israeli military has been accused of using this tactic since the 2002 attack on the Jenin refugee camp, and the tactic was subsequently deemed illegal under Israeli law in a 2005 Supreme Court ruling. Despite this ruling, and the Fourth Geneva Convention, reports of the continued use of this tactic abound, with multiple instances reported during the Israeli war on Gaza.
Following the lenient sentences, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, Ahmed Tibi, stated:
“The entire system conveys the message that the life of a Arab, especially the life of a Palestinian child, is worth less. It’s no surprise that up to now, hundreds of Palestinian children have been killed by the Israeli army, and it has not led to any punishments or even condemnation.”