TEL AVIV (May. 25)
Four Israeli soldiers who beat a Palestinian to death in the Gaza Strip last August were acquitted of manslaughter charges Thursday by a military court.
They were found guilty, however, of brutality and excessive use of force against the victim, Hani al-Shami, 43, a resident of the Jambalayas refugee camp.
The four, members of the prestigious Givati Brigade, face sentencing at a later date. They are Sgt. Yitzhak Adler and Pvts. Arye Luzzato, Ron Khakal and Yitzhak Kabouddi.
The court also acquitted an Israel Defense Force reserve doctor who was charged with negligence said to have contributed to Shami’s death.
But the 100-page ruling took the Military Advocate General’s Office sharply to task for not conducting a thorough, complete investigation of the case.
The court said the laxity of the inquiry made it virtually impossible now to determine who was actually responsible for the fatality.
It also ordered the IDF to issue written regulations to soldiers in the field making clear beyond any doubt what methods are forbidden when dealing with disturbances.
The soldiers testified during the trial that they had orders to beat rock-throwers. The president of the court, Col. Emmanuel Gross, ruled that those orders were illegal.
The soldiers said the blows they administered to Shami in his home were meant to stop his shouting, which was attracting a hostile crowd.
Gross said the accused had exceeded their orders and administered an unnecessarily savage beating.
Shami was then taken to a military outpost, where he died after lying on the ground for several hours, blindfolded and bound.