Israeli soldier sentenced over killing of Gaza teen

Israeli soldier sentenced to one month’s community service over killing of Othman Halles, 15, at weekly Gaza protests.

Wounded Palestinian is evacuated during an anti-Israel protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence in the southern Gaza Strip
A wounded Palestinian is evacuated during a protest near the Israeli fence east of the southern Gaza Strip [File: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters]

An Israeli military court sentenced a soldier to one month of the military’s equivalent of community service over the killing of a Palestinian teenager after he opened fire without authorisation.

The unnamed soldier was convicted on Monday for “acting without authorisation in a manner endangering to life and wellbeing”, it said in a statement.

Othman Rami Halles, 15, was shot dead during protests by the Israel fence east of the Gaza Strip on July 13, 2018, the Palestinian health ministry said at the time.

A video shared by the Defense for Children rights organisation showed Halles standing by the separation fence near several women and children holding up Palestinian flags. Halles is then seen attempting to climb the fence before he was shot in the torso, falling down.

The army said a probe had found “the soldier fired at a Palestinian rioter who was climbing on the security fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip”.

The soldier, identified in Israeli media as a sniper, had opened fire “not in accordance with the rules of engagement and not in accordance with the instructions he had received”, it said.

This is the first time an Israeli soldier has been convicted over the killing of a Palestinian involved in the weekly Gaza demonstrations, a spokesman for Jerusalem-based human rights organisation B’Tselem told dpa news agency on Wednesday.

After a plea bargain, the court sentenced the soldier to 30 days in prison with military labour and a suspended term of another 60 days, and he was demoted to the rank of private.

The investigation had found no evidence of a “causal link between the soldier’s fire” and the teenager’s death, the army said.

At least 311 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since protests were launched along the areas east of the blockaded enclave near the Israeli fence in March 2018, the majority during the weekly demonstrations.

Eight Israelis have been killed in Gaza-related violence over the same period.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies