A soldier who killed a wounded Palestinian attacker last March has been found guilty of manslaughter.
Sgt. Elor Azaria, a medic who was 19 at the time of the incident was ruled to have acted outside the rules of engagement through killing Abdel Fattah al-Sharif. Sgt Azaria was tried at a three – judge military court.
Sharif and another attacker stabbed and wounded a soldier at a military checkpoint just before the incident. The other Palestinian was shot and killed immediately. Sharif, wounded by the counterattack was alive when Azaria killed him.
Chief Judge Colonel Maya Heller, reading for more than two hours, declared that the solder’s arguments could not be accepted and that he killed Sharif out of revenge.
The case has split Israel over whether or not Azaria should have killed the man. Reports of clashes between police and far-right fans of Beitar Football club ensued. Azaria’s mother shouted at the panel of judges, “You should be ashamed of yourselves.”
Sharif’s father, on the other hand, welcomed the decision. He said, “I feel good. It is fair. This is an achievement of the court that it condemned the soldier.”
Originally, prosecutors pushed for the charge to be murder, which would have carried a sentence up to 20 years. Eventually, they settled for a charge of manslaughter.
Calls for a full pardon for Azaria have already been made. Naftali Bennet, of the far right Jewish Home party said, “Today a soldier who killed a terrorist who deserved to die, who tried to slaughter [another] soldier, was placed in shackles and convicted as a criminal.”
The high-profile case came about when Sharif’s death was captured on footage. He lay wounded on the floor and surrounded by troops. Azaria then shot him. The defence case that Sharif was already dead and that Azaria was scared was rejected as “having it both ways.”
This case has been seen as a test of Israel’s military justice.