Elor Azaria: IDF appeal 'excessively lenient' sentence given to Israeli soldier who killed wounded Palestinian attacker

'The needless killing of a person, even if he is a terrorist, is illegal [and] morally wrong'

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Israel Defence Force (IDF) prosecutors have appealed against the "excessively lenient" 18-month sentence given to a soldier for killing a wounded Palestinian attacker. 

In an appeal, Israel's Military Advocate General said Elor Azaria "should receive a harsher sentence" of between 36 to 60 months, "or the punishment determined by the minority opinion at the military court (30 months)".

A majority of two judges sentenced Azaria to 18 months in prison for manslaughter after he fatally shot Abd Elfatah Ashareef, a 21-year-old Palestinian attacker who was lying on the ground unable to move after being wounded. 

The military court rejected his contention that he believed the man still posed a threat, admitting into evidence video of the shooting recorded by a Palestinian activist.

The minority opinion of the third judge argued he should have received a much harsher sentence, closer to the prosecution's demand of no less than three years.

“His sentence is excessively short and is inconsistent with the appropriate level of punishment for his actions," the appeal states. 

"The respondent received a lenient sentence that is not in line with his actions and the severity of these actions, is not in line with the level of punishment common in similar cases, and furthermore, is not in line with the level of punishment common in less severe cases."

It added: "In its verdict, the military court delivered a decisive and clear message about the sanctity of life and the purity of arms, and emphasised that the needless killing of a person, even if he is a terrorist, is illegal, morally wrong and goes against the IDF's values."

The military appeal was sparked by Azaria's own appeal against his manslaughter conviction, which prompted three of his lawyers to resign. 

In a statement, they said he had received a "fantastic and seemingly impossible" sentence and appeared to suggest he should not put it at risk.

Azia's sentence was postponed as a result of his appeal.

“This is vindictive, despicable and repulsive revenge that comes as a response to Elor’s own appeal,” Azor's lawyer Yoram Sheftal told Channel 2 News Online. “If Elor’s appeal hadn’t been filed, this one would have never been submitted.”