An Israeli soldier who killed a wounded Palestinian attacker in a high-profile case that split opinion across the country has been jailed for 18 months. Sgt Elor Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter for shooting dead 21-year-old Abdul Fatah al-Sharif in Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, last March. Azaria had told a colleague that Sharif, who had stabbed another soldier, “deserved to die”. Military chiefs condemned his actions, but others praised them.
The offence carries a sentence of up to 20 years, though prosecutors had called for Azaria to be jailed for between three and five years. Sharif’s family had called for Azaria to be jailed for life. Azaria, who was also ordered demoted, sat smiling broadly, embraced by his mother, as the judgment was read out, says the BBC’s Jonny Dymond who was at the court.
The judge said his crime was mitigated by the fact that it was his first conviction, that it had occurred in an active military scene and that there had been no clear orders as to how he was supposed to act. Dozens of right-wing protesters had gathered outside the Tel Aviv Defence Ministry headquarters, where the military court hearing took place.