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Israel Indicts Two Soldiers for Misconduct in Gaza

The Israeli military says it has charged two of its soldiers with misconduct after they forced a Palestinian boy to check for unexploded bombs during Israel's offensive last year in the Gaza Strip.

The military said Thursday the staff sergeants instructed the nine-year-old boy to open several bags suspected to be booby-trapped while searching a building in a Gaza neighborhood.

The Palestinian boy was not harmed in the incident. The Israeli army says the soldiers' actions contradicted military orders prohibiting the use of civilians in operational activity.

The military says an investigation into the incident was launched last June and was not connected to a United Nations inquiry calling on Israel to probe war crimes allegations during the Gaza conflict.

A U.N. report has also accused the Palestinian militant group Hamas of possible war crimes during the three-week offensive which killed more than 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

On Thursday, United Nations humanitarian chief John Holmes called on Israel to relax its blockade on the Gaza Strip to allow the Palestinian territory to rebuild.

Israel launched the Gaza offensive in December of 2008 to stop Palestinian rocket attacks.

The Israeli military says it launched airstrikes against two targets in southern Gaza on Thursday, in response to a rocket attack that hit southern Israel earlier in the day. The airstrikes targeted a suspected weapons manufacturing facility and a smuggling tunnel.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.