An Israeli soldier was given a 45-day prison sentence Sunday for the killings of two Palestinian women during operation Cast Lead.
Credit: Uriel Sinai

An Israeli soldier was given a 45-day prison sentence after being found guilty of "illegal use of a weapon" over the deaths of two Palestinian women during the 2010 operation "Cast Lead" in Gaza.

The soldier, known as "staff sergeant S," was accused of killing the mother and daughter who were said to be waving white flags before they were shot.

In one of the most notorious examples of alleged war crimes mentioned in the Goldstone report, Riyeh Abu Hajaj, 64 and her daughter Majda Abu Hajaj, 37, were shot dead after fleeing their home that was hit by an Israeli tank shell, said Naharnet.

According to the Guardian, the original indictment read that the sniper, "deliberately targeted an individual walking with a group of people waving a white flag without being ordered or authorised to do so".

In the end, the charge of manslaughter was reduced by prosecutors to "illegal use of a weapon," after a plea bargain deal.

The plea bargain was reached as military prosecutors were unable to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the soldier fired the shots, said AFP.

In particular, the bodies of the women were not presented to the court and the times of the shooting were difficult to ascertain.

The Jerusalem Post also said that there were significant discrepancies between the IDF accounts and those of the Palestinian family.

Israeli rights group B'Tselem said that the investigation must be reopened if the court had not found the guilty party.

"If the military prosecution accepted the claim brought by the soldier's lawyers, that there is no connection between the shooting he admitted to, and the killing of the Palestinian mother and daughter, this means that the investigation into this incident was never completed," the rights group said in a statement.




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