IDF soldiers in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead
IDF soldiers in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. Photo by IDF Spokesman
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An Israel Defense Forces soldier has been officially charged with killing a woman in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in early 2009. The indictment against the soldier, a member of the Givati brigade, was filed on Tuesday following a military hearing.

 Military Advocate General Avihai Mandelblit furthermore has taken legal action against soldiers who allegedly deviated from explicit orders in three additional incidents during Israel's winter offensive in Gaza.

The advocate general also decided to close the proceedings on all the other incidents that were mentioned in the Goldstone Report, a report commissioned by the United Nations to investigate Operation Cast Lead. The report mentioned 23 incidents of alleged war crimes perpetrated by Israeli soldiers. Mandelblit arrived at these decisions in light of the findings of the military probe in which more than 400 officers and fighters were questioned over the last 18 months.

 The indictments are of a criminal nature and include manslaughter and disobeying a military directive pertaining to the prohibition on the use of civilians for operational activity.

Mendelblit also ordered disciplinary proceedings against a captain for the failure in professional discretion in the approval of an attack on a terrorist operative, as well as opened a criminal investigation into the deaths of 29 members of the Al-Samoni family in the opening days of Israel's ground offensive.

Last month, the IDF soldier faced charges over opening fire on 64-year-old Raya Salma Abu Hajjaj and her 35-year-old daughter Majda in disregard of the IDF's rules of engagement during Operation Cast Lead.

The summons to the soldier's hearing used unusually strong phrasing, including the word 'killing', which leaves open the possibility of a manslaughter charge, or a lesser charge of negligence.

The soldier, identified only as First Sergeant S., said during an army investigation that he had fired at the women's legs only when he believed troops' lives to be at risk and had not intended to kill them.

But Palestinian eyewitnesses to the shooting south of Gaza city on January 4, 2009, said the women were among a group of civilians waving white flags.