An Israel Defence Force soldier who shot and killed a Palestinian terrorist was sentenced to 18 months in prison this week after Israeli military judges found him guilty of manslaughter last month.
Sgt. Elor Azaria, 21, was given two suspended sentences, one for 12 months and the other for six, and demoted to private for killing Abdel Fattah al-Sharif on March 24, 2016.
The Times of Israel reported on Tuesday that judges handed down the sentence in a case that has divided Israeli society.
The medic reportedly shot Sharif after he was wounded and disarmed in a knife attack on an IDF checkpoint, one of a series of knife attacks committed in Israel last year by terrorists against the Jewish state.
Sharif allegedly stabbed another soldier — a friend of Azaria — and was shot several times during the attack. When Azaria arrived on the scene some 10 minutes later, he shot Sharif in the head, killing him.
Azaria claimed self-defense, and added that he wasn’t certain that Sharif wouldn’t attack again or that he wasn’t wearing a vest containing explosives.
The court rejected his defenses and ultimately determined that the shooting was an act of revenge.
The Times of Israel reported that several politicians called for Azaria to be pardoned, but Sharif’s family criticized the sentence, calling it a “farce.”
Chief Judge Maya Heller noted that it was difficult reach a decision in the case. She added, however, that she and two other judges believed Azaria violated the army’s rules of engagement.
When Azaria entered the courtroom, family members and bystanders applauded and hugged him. Some sang Israel’s national anthem and called him a hero.
You can see that scene here:
Following sentencing, friends and family sing the national anthem, call Azaria a “hero”. He hugs his mother and father, then leaves. pic.twitter.com/9iIGiqp5pd
— Judah Ari Gross (@JudahAriGross) February 21, 2017
Azaria was set to begin his 18-month sentence on March 5. His attorneys asked for a delay while they file an appeal.
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