Elor Azaria: Israeli soldier who was filmed killing wounded Palestinian is freed

Former Israel Defence Force combat medic was greeted by supporters as a hero with banners welcoming his release

Samuel Osborne
Sunday 27 May 2018 13:18 BST
Palestinian man shot by Israeli soldier as he lies on the ground

An Israeli soldier convicted of killing a wounded Palestinian has been released after serving nine months in prison.

Elor Azaria will walk free after serving two-thirds of his 14-month sentence.

When he was 19 Azaria killed Abdel Fattah al-Sharif in an act captured on video by an Israeli human rights group.

Israeli soldier Elor Azaria is lifted by friends near his family home in Ramla, near Tel Aviv, as they celebrate his release from prison

In the footage the 21-year-old Palestinian could be seen lying wounded on the ground in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, having been shot after he had stabbed an Israeli soldier.

Azaria shot the immobile assailant in the head at point-blank range.

The former Israel Defence Forces (IDF) combat medic was initially sentenced to 18 months in August after he was convicted of manslaughter.

Israel’s military chief, Gadi Eisenkot, later reduced the sentence by four months.

His release was brought forward by two days after he requested to attend his brother’s wedding, Haaretz reported.

Azaria was greeted by supporters and banners welcoming his release, which read: “Welcome home, Elor the hero.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, told reporters he was “glad it’s done with”.

Azaria’s case sharply divided the nation.

While Israel’s military pushed for his prosecution, saying he violated its code of ethics, many Israelis, particularly those on the nationalist right, defended his actions.

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