Israeli soldier who killed Palestinian released for 2 days

​Sergeant Elor Azaria temporarily released from detention to return home to Ramla to spend Jewish holiday with family

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Israeli soldier Elor Azaria (C) is greeted by friends and relatives as he arrives to his home in the city of Ramle near Tel Aviv April 22 , 2016.

Sergeant Elor Azaria, an Israeli soldier who was charged with manslaughter by a military court after he shot dead a wounded Palestinian in the Israeli-occupied West Bank last week, was released on Friday to spend the Jewish holiday of Passover at home with his family.

Azaria, 19, who was also charged with “conduct unbecoming of a non-commissioned officer,” was given a warm welcome upon his arrival at his home in Ramla, by family and friends.

Dozens of supporters were also present, singing songs and displaying signs of support. One sign hung up nearby read "Elor Azaria, we are all with you!"

He has been instructed to return to his army base on Sunday morning, where he is being held in detention while a military court completes proceedings.

Amateur video footage related to the crime showed alleged Palestinian knife attacker Abdel Fattah al Sharif wounded and lying on the ground in Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on March 24 before Azaria shot him in the head at close range.

Azaria’s lawyers have argued that he may have thought the attacker was wearing explosives, but he was reportedly already checked for a suicide belt and no one in the video appears to be acting with caution towards him.

Thousands of Israelis rallied in central Tel Aviv on Tuesday to call on authorities to set Azaria free.

Many of the mainly right-wing protesters in Rabin Square shouted nationalist slogans including, “He’s a hero,” and “Release the soldier.”

The United Nations harshly condemned the "gruesome" killing after the video of the shooting went viral on social media.

Israel's defence minister, its military chief and other top officials said the incident was contrary to the army's values.

Yet an opinion poll, last month found 57 percent of Israelis think the soldier should never have been arrested.

Almost 60,000 people have signed an online petition demanding Azaria be decorated for "heroism."

Right-wing politicians have rushed to the soldier's defence.

A second video released on March 27 by B'Tselem showed Azaria shaking hands with Baruch Marzel, a well-known ultra-nationalist settler leader, after the shooting.

TRTWorld and agencies