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Israeli Officers Convicted In Bound Palestinian Demonstrator's Shooting

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JERUSALEM — An Israeli lieutenant colonel and one of his soldiers were convicted Thursday in the shooting of a bound and blindfolded Palestinian demonstrator.

The Palestinian had been detained in July 2008 at a violent protest against Israel's West Bank separation barrier. Video taken by a local resident showed the soldier firing a rubber-coated bullet from close range at the feet of the Palestinian man, whose hands were tied behind his back. The Palestinian's toe was bruised.

He was one of several dozen Palestinians who hurled stones at soldiers during a protest against the barrier near the village of Naalin in the West Bank.

A military court convicted the officer for ordering the soldier to shoot. He resigned his field command shortly after the shooting but continued to serve elsewhere.

Both were convicted of unbecoming conduct, and the soldier was convicted of unlawful use of a weapon. The soldier, a sergeant, has since completed his compulsory service.

They have not been sentenced yet, but the charges carry a maximum punishment of three years in prison.

The human rights group B'Tselem, which distributed the video of the shooting, welcomed the court's ruling as "important both as a measure of justice for the victim, as well as for the deterrent message it sends to soldiers and commanders."

Palestinians have long complained of abuse from Israeli soldiers and critics have accused Israel of not doing enough to prosecute and convict soldiers suspected of such offenses.

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