An Israeli staff sergeant will be prosecuted for manslaughter over his role in the deaths of two Palestinian women reportedly holding white flags, the country's military advocate general said today. The prosecutor also said a battalion commander was disciplined for allowing his soldiers to use a Palestinian as a human shield during the offensive launched against the Gaza Strip in late 2008. Another officer was disciplined for ordering an airstrike close to a mosque. The fighting killed 1,400 Gazans, many of them civilians, and drew a barrage of international criticism, including a scathing UN inquiry.
The advocate general will indict "a number" of officers and soldiers for their conduct during 22 days of fighting in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, the army said today. The decisions by Maj Gen Avichai Mendelblit are part of an army inquiry into more than 150 incidents, including ones raised by a United Nations panel led by the former UN prosecutor and South African judge Richard Goldstone. The Goldstone panel accused Israel and Hamas of war crimes and called on them to investigate the charges.
Israel launched the military operation in what it said was a bid to stop rocket fire on its southern towns and cities. More than 400 rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza into Israel since the operation, killing one foreign worker last March, according to the army. Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the US and the European * AP