Right decision? Elor Azaria, Israeli Soldier Sentenced to 18 Months for Killing Palestinian
Right decision? Elor Azaria, Israeli Soldier Sentenced to 18 Months for Killing Palestinian

Right decision? Elor Azaria, Israeli Soldier Sentenced to 18 Months for Killing Palestinian

An Israeli military court sentenced on Tuesday Sgt. Elor Azaria to 18 months in prison after he was convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead a wounded Palestinian assailant last March.

Elor Azaria was convicted of manslaughter last month after he was filmed killing the Palestinian in the West Bank city of Hebron.

The 20-year-old conscript medic could be seen in the footage cocking his rifle and then shooting 21-year-old Palestinian Abdul Fatah al-Sharif in the head.

The Palestinian man had already been shot after he attacked another Israeli soldier.

Prosecutors alleged that the sergeant had shot dead Abdul Fatah al-Sharif out of revenge.

However, Azaria’s defence had sought a full acquittal, claiming he fired further shots because he believed the man still posed a threat and had a hidden bomb.

Captured footage showed the knife was not within the wounded soldier’s reach, and no bomb was found.

The incident, which took place on 24 March and followed a wave of Palestinian street attacks on Israelis, sparked national debate in Israel about how the military should conduct itself.

The military’s top brass condemned his behaviour, insisting that the military code of ethics should be upheld and pointing to the rule which states that soldiers can open fire only in life-threatening situations.

However, several politicians, including Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke out in support of the soldier.

Popular support for Azaria was also high, with thousands attending a rally last year and tens of thousands of people signing an online petition demanding he receive military honours for heroism.

The court heard how Azaria told another soldier “He deserves to die” after pulling the trigger.

His army record had been unblemished until the shooting.

The judge said the soldier “took it upon himself to be both judge and executioner”.

The father of the fatally wounded soldier has condemned the year-and-a-half sentence, saying: “If one of us killed an animal they would have put him in jail for God knows how long, they are only making fun of us.”

Azaria will appeal his conviction.


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