Soldier’s conviction stirs controversy in Israel

Some say justice was served when a military court convicted Sergeant Elor Azaria of manslaughter for shooting dead an immobilised Palestinian assailant. But Israel's prime minister has called on the president to pardon the soldier.

Photo by: AP (Archive)
Photo by: AP (Archive)

Supporters of Israeli army medic Sgt. Elor Azaria gathered outside the Israeli military court in Tel Aviv to protest against the verdict. The Hebrew sign reads “Free Elor.”

The decision to court-martial Sergeant Elor Azaria, who shot dead a wounded Palestinian man following an alleged knife attack last March, has stirred public controversy in Israel with some politicians calling on President Reuven Rivlin to pardon the 20-year-old soldier. They include the prime minister.

An Israeli military court on Wednesday convicted Azaria of manslaughter. The Sergeant fatally shot Abd Fatah Al Sharif in the head while he was already wounded and lying on the ground in the occupied West Bank.

Prosecutors say Azaria violated the rules of engagement by acting this way. But others believe he had to do it.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he supports pardoning Azaria in a post on his Facebook page.

"This is a difficult and painful day - first and foremost for Elor, his family, Israel's soldiers, many citizens and parents of soldiers, among them me ... I support granting a pardon to Elor Azaria," the post said.

The victim's father, Yousri, said of Azaria's conviction: "To say he is guilty is a good step, not bad, and we hope that the sentencing will be fair."

Azaria faces up to 20 years in jail, but legal experts expect the sentence to be shorter. 

TRT World’s James Champion has  more.



TRTWorld and agencies