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Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter moved to house arrest

© POOL/AFP/File | Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, who shot dead a wounded Palestinian assailant in March 2016, is embraced by his mother Oshra at the start of his sentencing hearing in a military court in Tel Aviv on February 21, 2017

JERUSALEM (AFP) - 

An Israeli soldier who shot dead a wounded Palestinian assailant will be placed on house arrest pending his appeal of his manslaughter conviction and 18-month sentence, the army said Monday.

A military court ruled that Elor Azaria will be placed under house arrest on July 20, when his mandatory three-year military service ends, an army spokeswoman said.

The French-Israeli infantry medic has been under "open arrest" confined to his army base.

Military judges are expected to rule on his appeal on July 30, Israeli media reported. His imprisonment has been postponed pending his appeal.

Azaria was convicted in January and sentenced the next month after a trial that deeply divided Israeli society.

The March 2016 shooting in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron was caught on video by a rights group and spread widely online.

It showed Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, 21, lying wounded on the ground, shot along with another Palestinian after stabbing and wounding a soldier, according to the army.

Azaria then shot him in the head without any apparent provocation.

He said he feared Sharif was wearing an explosive belt and could blow himself up, a claim judges rejected.

The trial captivated Israel and highlighted deep divisions in public opinion between those who decry his actions and those who say he was justified.

A number of Israeli politicians have called for him to be pardoned, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Amnesty International has said Azaria's sentence does "not reflect the gravity of the offence," while the UN human rights office said it was an "unacceptable" punishment for "an apparent extra-judicial killing".

© 2017 AFP