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Israeli officer will not face trial over shelling Gaza clinic in 2014 assault

AFP , Wednesday 15 Jun 2016
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An Israeli officer who ordered the shelling of a building during the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza in "honour" of a dead soldier will not face trial and has been reprimanded instead, the army said Wednesday.

Lieutenant Colonel Neriya Yashuron had been under investigation by the military for ordering the shelling in the war, with a clinic reportedly targeted in the hard-hit Shejaiya neighbourhood.

Israeli media reported that Yashuron had told a military publication that he regretted that his troops could not be at the dead soldier's funeral and decided to fire shells toward where he was killed.

The army said in a statement its investigation found that the shelling resulted in no casualties, but that the order "sent a dangerous message that a gun salute or an act of revenge are legitimate actions".

It called the order "inappropriate and potentially blurring the lines between right and wrong, especially during combat."

It said Yashuron, who commanded an armoured battalion, is to be "officially reprimanded," with the case to be taken into consideration for future assignments and promotions.

But by closing the case without trial, the military faced accusations of seeking to avoid any deeper examination of its actions during the devastating 2014 war.

Yehuda Shaul, a founding member of Breaking the Silence, which documents alleged abuses by the Israeli army, said "the authorities are trying to avoid opening any serious trial that can open the question about the rules of engagement."

"What is very clear is that any case that deals with the merits of the rules of engagement is going to be buried," he told AFP.

In a report on the war, Breaking the Silence brought to light similar allegations involving the same brigade, though a different battalion.

In that case, a company commander was said to have ordered tanks to fire a barrage in memory of a killed soldier.

Shaul said the allegations showed the incident involving Yashuron was not isolated.

A UN report in June said both Israel and Palestinian militants may have committed war crimes during the Gaza war, while decrying "unprecedented" devastation and human suffering.

The 50-day Israeli assault on Gaza took a heavy toll, killing 2,251 Palestinians, including more than 500 children. Seventy-three people were killed on the Israeli side, including 67 soldiers.

*The story was edited by Ahram Online.

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