Israeli soldier gets community service after killing Gazan

JERUSALEM (AP) - An Israeli soldier who shot a Palestinian fisherman near the Gaza border in 2018 received 45 days of community service after an investigation by the army showed that he was firing without a permit, the military said Thursday .
The military said a group of Palestinians was approaching the fence, but was far away when the paratrooper opened fire and hit one of them. In his statement, neither the soldier nor the Palestinian was identified or whether he was killed.
Nawaf al-Attar, a 23-year-old fisherman, was shot dead by Israeli troops near the northern beach line on November 14, 2018, when the military said the shootout had taken place.
It happened a few hours after a ceasefire came into force after a short round of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants. There were weekly protests near the fence at the time, which often turned violent, but there were no demonstrations that day.
The military said the soldier had closed a plea in which he pleaded guilty to negligence and reckless threats. He received a suspended sentence and was downgraded to the rank of private.
Gaza has been under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade since the militant Islamic group Hamas took over the power of rival Palestinian forces in 2007. Since then, Hamas and other militant groups have waged three wars and waged numerous minor fights with Israel.
Human rights groups have accused Israel of using excessive force and failing to adequately investigate the killing of civilians. Israel says it is making every effort to avoid civilian casualties and accuses Palestinian militants of using civilians as human shields.
"The decades-long military occupation of millions of people requires exorbitant violence and impunity for the soldiers who maintain them," the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem said in a statement.
"45 days of community service to kill a man are just the latest example of how the military law enforcement system should protect perpetrators, not their victims."
An investigation by the Associated Press last year found that the military had launched an investigation into 24 potentially criminal Palestinian shootings in the occupied West Bank and Gaza last year. None of the cases at that time had resulted in convictions or charges, and in most cases the army had not interviewed key witnesses or retrieved evidence from the field.
The Palestinian Authority has asked the International Criminal Court to investigate suspected Israeli war crimes, including allegations of violence in Gaza. Israel has tried to rally the international community against any investigation, arguing that the Palestinians have no legal status and that their own courts investigate and punish any wrongdoing.
Israel does not recognize the ICC, but any charges could put Israeli officials in other countries at risk of being arrested.
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Associate press clerk Fares Akram from Gaza City in the Gaza Strip contributed to this report.

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