Is­raeli court gives sol­dier 18 months for fa­tal shoot­ing

Cape Breton Post - - WORLD - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

An Is­raeli mil­i­tary court on Tues­day sen­tenced a sol­dier to 18 months in prison for his deadly shoot­ing of a Pales­tinian at­tacker who lay wounded on the ground, cap­ping a nearly year­long saga that has deeply di­vided the coun­try.

The sen­tence, which in­cluded a year’s pro­ba­tion and a de­mo­tion in rank, was lighter than ex­pected. Prose­cu­tors had asked for a prison term of three to five years. Pales­tini­ans dis­missed the sen­tence as a “joke.”

Yet it still trig­gered dis­ap­point­ment from sev­eral hun­dred pro­test­ers who had gath­ered out­side the Tel Aviv court and had hoped to see the sol­dier walk free. Sgt. Elor Azaria is to start serv­ing his term on March 5, and politi­cians im­me­di­ately called for him to be par­doned.

“Even if he erred, Elor should not sit in prison. We will all pay the price,” said Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Naf­tali Ben­nett, leader of the na­tion­al­ist Jewish Home Party and an early sup­porter of the sol­dier. The Pales­tini­ans, mean­while, said the light sen­tenc­ing only en­cour­aged Is­raeli sol­diers to use ex­ces­sive force.

“This sen­tence is a joke, and it shows how much dis­crim­i­na­tion Is­raeli courts prac­tice against Pales­tini­ans,” said Issa Karaka, the Pales­tinian govern­ment min­is­ter for pris­on­ers.

Azaria was con­victed of man­slaugh­ter last month in a rare case of a mil­i­tary court rul­ing against a com­bat sol­dier for lethal ac­tion taken in the field.

Azaria, an army medic, was caught on a cell­phone video last March as he fa­tally shot the wounded Pales­tinian, just af­ter the man stabbed a sol­dier in the West Bank city of He­bron. The Pales­tinian, Ab­del Fat­tah alSharif, was ly­ing on the ground badly wounded and al­ready un­armed when Azaria shot him in the head.

The dead Pales­tinian’s fa­ther, Yousri al-Sharif, said the light sen­tence made a mock­ery of jus­tice. “If one of us killed an an­i­mal they would have put him in jail for God knows how long. They are only mak­ing fun of us,” he said.

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