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Israel military tribunal convicts soldiers of using boy to search for explosives

Two Israeli soldiers were convicted by a military tribunal on Sunday of using a 9-year-old Palestinian boy to search confiscated bags for explosives in during the 2008-2009 Gaza war [Guardian backgrounder]. The boy described the incident in an affidavit to the advocacy group Defence for Children International [advocacy website] and stated that he feared the soldiers would kill him [AFP report] during the ordeal as he was forced to search the bags while the soldiers pointed their weapons at him and laughed. The tribunal admitted in its opinion that the soldiers had gone several days without rest, but also stated that Israel's Supreme Court [official website, in Hebrew] had banned the use of "human shields" and similar tactics.

Human rights concerns during the Gaza conflict were addressed in a report released [JURIST report] by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] last month and formally adopted [JURIST report] by member states on Thursday. The report also addresses violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed in May during Israel's raid of a Gaza-bound flotilla [JURIST news archive], which left numerous wounded and resulted in the deaths of nine pro-Palestine activists - eight Turks and one American. Israel has rejected the report as "biased, politicized and extremist." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [official website] testified before an Israeli-created civilian commission in August and expressed confidence that the commission would find Israeli actions to be in compliance with international law, explaining the Israeli response to the flotilla in the context of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. In July, an Israeli military probe into the flotilla incident found insufficient intelligence and planning, but concluded that no punishments were necessary [JURIST report].

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