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Israeli military court convicts 2 soldiers

By Guy Azriel, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A military court rules against two Israeli soldiers
  • A rubber bullet was fired toward a Palestinian detainee
  • The probe began after an Israeli human rights group released a video

Jerusalem (CNN) -- An Israeli military court Thursday convicted a lieutenant colonel and a soldier in the firing of a rubber bullet at close range toward a handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed.

Regiment commander Omri Borberg was convicted on charges of an attempted threat and behavior unfitting for a commander. His soldier, staff sergeant Leonardo Korea, was convicted on a charge of illegal use of a weapon and unfitting behavior.

There was no immediate word on the sentencing process. Maximum punishments for the attempted threat and illegal use of a weapon charges are each three years in prison. Maximum punishment for unfitting behavior is one year in prison.

The incident occurred in 2008. The investigation began when the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem released a videotape showing a Palestinian man, handcuffed and blindfolded, flinching after a soldier fires a gun pointed at him.

The Palestinian in the video is 27-year-old Ashraf Abu Rahma, a demonstrator who was protesting in Nil'in, a West Bank village near Ramallah, according to B'Tselem.

"The conviction in the Nil'in shooting case is important both as a measure of justice for the victim, as well as for the deterrent message it sends to soldiers and commanders. The military must now act decisively and proactively to ensure that the far too common phenomenon of ill treatment of Palestinian detainees is not tolerated," B'Tselem said in a statement.

Superiors of the commander concluded the incident "presents a moral failure of command that should not have happened," the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

The military re-assigned Borberg after the incident.

In a military hearing, Borberg said he did not intend for the soldier to open fire, but only for him to "carry out an act of deterrence," the military said.

Both the IDF and B'Tselem said Abu Rahma's toe was wounded and that he was treated by an IDF doctor before being sent home. The Israeli military said he "had been arrested for taking part in a violent riot."