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Middle East

French-Israeli soldier sentenced to 18 months for killing wounded Palestinian

© Jack Guez, AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-02-21

A French-Israeli soldier who shot dead an incapacitated Palestinian assailant in the occupied West Bank was sentenced on Tuesday to 18 months in jail.

A military court last month convicted Sergeant Elor Azaria of manslaughter, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of 20 years' imprisonment, over the March 2016 incident in the town of Hebron.

Prosecutors had asked for a three to five-year sentence.

The sentencing came weeks after an Israeli court delivered a guilty verdict against the 21-year-old soldier who has dual French nationality for killing Abdul Fatah al-Sharif as he lay wounded.

The March 2016 shooting in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron was caught on video and promptly went viral.

The video showed Sharif, 21, lying on the ground. He was then shot along with another Palestinian after stabbing and wounding an IDF soldier, according to the army.

Azaria then shoots him again in the head without any apparent provocation.

Azaria said he feared Sharif was wearing an explosive belt and could blow himself up, taking nearby soldiers and onlookers with him. The claim was rejected by the judges.

Arrests have been made over online death threats against a judge and other officials involved in the case, and the army has assigned bodyguards to the three judges who convicted Azaria.

Another man was arrested on suspicion of inciting violence against armed forces chief of staff Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot, who ordered the prosecution of Azaria, during a rowdy protest immediately following the verdict.

Police are prepared for fresh protests following the sentencing, spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP on Monday night.

"Police are ready for any exceptional incident," she said. "Police are prepared for any scenario, anywhere in the country."

Wave of violence

The case has stirred controversy and rocked Israeli politics, with some on the right defending the soldier.

The shooting came against the backdrop of a wave of Palestinian knife, gun and car-ramming attacks that erupted in October 2015.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he favoured a pardon for Azaria and called his father to express his sympathy.

A poll by pro-Netanyahu newspaper Israel Hayom found that around 70 percent of Israelis favour a pardon for Azaria.

The dead Palestinian's father, Yusri al-Sharif, says Azaria deserves a life sentence.

"But Israel is trying its own son, so there is a possibility it will be lenient," he said following the guilty verdict last month.


Date created : 2017-02-21


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