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Israel Sentences Soldier for Rogue Operation that Wounded Palestinian

An Israeli military court has sentenced an army officer to 15 months in prison for leading a rogue operation in which a Palestinian civilian was shot and wounded.

Prosecutors accused Israeli Lieutenant Yaakov Gigi and his men of hijacking a Palestinian taxi, tying up its driver, and driving the vehicle into a West Bank village of Dahariya in July 2007.

The Israeli soldiers were accused of shooting and seriously wounding a Palestinian man who aroused their suspicion and leaving him on the ground. The man was later treated at a Palestinian clinic and an Israeli hospital.

Israel's military said Wednesday that the court demoted Gigi to the rank of private and sentenced him to six months of probation at the end of his prison term. It says Gigi lied to his commanders about the incident and also persuaded his soldiers to lie.

In other developments, a former Israeli military administrator of the West Bank is calling on Israel's government to gradually remove roadblocks in the territory.

Brigadier General Ilan Paz said Wednesday the roadblocks create a difficult situation for Palestinians that he says encourages terrorism.

Israel's military operates hundreds of checkpoints in the West Bank that it says are a vital security tool against Palestinian militants. The United Nations says the roadblocks also severely hamper the movement of the territory's two million Palestinians, crippling their economy.

Separately, U.N. relief official John Holmes is due to visit the Gaza Strip this week to assess the humanitarian situation there.