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Israeli court mulls graver charges for soldiers

Israel’s Supreme Court delayed the military trial of soldiers who shot a bound Palestinian while it considers whether the charges are severe enough.

The decision Tuesday was in response to a petition by the Palestinian, Ashraf Abu Rahma, and a number of human rights groups who claim the charges against the soldiers are of little consequence and do not reflect the seriousness of the act.

The unnamed sergeant who allegedly fired a rubber bullet at close range at Abu Rahma’s foot, and his commander, Lt. Col. Omri Borberg, have been charged with “unbecoming conduct,” which does not result in a criminal record.

Abu Rahma and the human rights groups want the soldiers charged with “threats made by means of a weapon and firing at a handcuffed detainee,” which carries a jail sentence of up to seven years.

The court will take up to 21 days to consider the petition.

Abu Rahma was arrested, handcuffed and blindfolded during protests last month against the West Bank separation barrier.

A Palestinian filmed the sergeant shooting Abu Rahma in the foot from a range of about 1 1/2 yards while Borberg held the detainee’s arms. The sergeant has since been demoted and Borberg has been transferred to another position. Rubber-coated metal bullets fired at that range can cause severe damage.

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