WORLD NEWS TOMORROW – An Israeli soldier charged with manslaughter after shooting dead a Palestinian mother and daughter waving a white flag during the 2009 offensive in the Gaza Strip has been sentenced to 45 days in prison after a plea bargain changed the charges to illegal use of a weapon.

A statement on Sunday from the Israeli military spokesman noted the plea bargain was reached “following a mediation process and upon examination of the evidence with the recommendation of the military court”.

A manslaughter conviction could have carried a 20-year prison sentence.

The soldier, who has since completed his military service and was identified in media reports only as S, was accused of killing Ria Abu Hajaj, 64, and her daughter Majda, 37, as they were waving a white flag.They were part of a group fleeing the fighting on January 4, 2009, the first day of Israel’s ground offensive against Gaza militants.

Soldiers in Gaza had received reports that a fighter, who could open fire on the troops, was hiding among women trying to get away.S, and other soldiers, opened fire at the women, in defiance of orders.

His lawyers argued there was no proven connection between his opening fire and the deaths of the two women. They further claimed the two events took place at different times.The incident was one of several cited in the United Nations-initiated Goldstone Report, compiled after South African judge Richard Goldstone led a fact-finding mission to the Gaza Strip to investigate claims of war crimes during Israel’s December 2008-January 2009 Operation Cast Lead against Gaza militias.

The 575-page report accused both the Israeli military and Palestinian militants of war crimes and said Israeli soldiers had deliberately targeted civilians.Goldstone later retracted some of his accusations against Israel.The other members of his team did not.

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