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. Israeli soldier jailed for abusing Palestinians at checkpoint
JERUSALEM (AFP) Sep 21, 2004
An Israeli soldier was sentenced to six months in jail on Tuesday for abusing Palestinians at a checkpoint near the northern West Bank town of Nablus, the army said.

"An IDF (Israel Defence Forces) soldier was sentenced to an active prison term of six months and a suspended sentence of one year for violent behavior at the Huwwara checkpoint at the entrance to Nablus," a statement said, without naming him.

The soldier, a commander at the Huwwara checkpoint, was convicted of "assault, damage to property and unbecoming conduct, following numerous instances of violent behavior towards Palestinians crossing at the checkpoint, and for breaking the windows of Palestinian taxis at the checkpoint," the statement said.

He was arrested at the end of June after an incident in which he beat up a Palestinian was caught on camera by an army education unit which was filming an instructional video on how to behave at checkpoints.

In sentencing, judges ruled the defendant "completely and shamefully failed in carrying out his duty, acting in a violent and disgraceful manner ... (and) vented his frustration on those passing through the checkpoint" in clear violation of his duty, it said.

At the sentencing, judges rejected the defence that he was a scapegoat who had been convicted of "a crime committed by all soldiers", arguing that he was convicted on the basis of his crimes alone.

Due to his failure while commanding troops at the checkpoint, the soldier was demoted to the rank of private, it concluded.

He has 15 days in which to appeal.

Last month, Israel's chief military prosecutor said military police had investigated more than 600 cases of alleged abuse by soldiers against Palestinians during the nearly four-year uprising.

General Menachem Finkelstein said that since January, the police had opened 120 cases of alleged abuse, and some 30 indictments had been handed down.

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