An Israeli soldier who shot dead a wounded Palestinian in an execution-style killing that a court deemed revenge was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in jail for manslaughter, sparking outrage among Palestinians and rights groups over Israel's lenient treatment of soldiers' excessive use of force in occupied Palestinian territories.
The shooting in the city of Hebron came to light when a video showed Azaria shooting 21-year-old Abdel-Fattah al-Sharif after he was on the ground and injured, following the stabbing of an Israeli soldier. This prompted the jail sentence of 18 months, with 12 months of probation on top of the prison sentence.
On the other hand, she noted, Azaria had not expressed remorse for his actions, according to details of the hearing from a press pool report. Before the killing, the soldiers look unconcerned by the young man on the ground, having reportedly already disarmed al-Sharif of a knife.
The court took into consideration several mitigating factors, including the fact that Azariya was an outstanding soldier and that he did not receive proper treatment from his officers when suffering from emotional stress after the incident, and sentenced him to the shortest term prescribed by law. During the same time, Israeli forces have killed 235 Palestinians, majority said to be attackers. "Israel's security demands he be pardoned".
When reading the verdict in January, presiding Judge Maya Heller dismissed every argument the defense brought, point by point, all but eliminating the possibility of an appeal, legal experts said.
Prosecution of Israeli soldiers on serious crimes like manslaughter is rare.
Meanwhile, Yusri al-Sharif, the father of slain assailant Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, said the sentence was "unjust" and a "farce created to deceive world opinion".
Azaria had fatally shot Al-Sharif at a close range in Hebron in March 2016.
Abu Shamsiya told Mondoweiss he is grateful he was around to film the incident, because without the camera footage he feels certain Azaria would never have been taken to court, let alone serve time in prison.
"One can not use this type of force, even if we're talking about an enemy's life", the court said in its verdict.
Should the appeal not go in his favor, or th process not be complete by March 5, Azaria will have to surrnder to the authorities at military Prison No. 6, by 11 AM. He will also be demoted to the rank of private.
Azaria entered the courtroom smiling, to applause from friends and family. Reactions were more muted Tuesday as Azaria's father, Charlie, took a more calming approach, asking supporters not to disrupt the proceedings. After the verdict was read out, the family sang "Hatikvah", the Israeli national anthem, together and called him a hero.
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