Israeli soldier who killed wounded Palestinian attacker appeals 18 month-sentence

Three of Elor Azaria's defence attorneys have quit, saying they oppose the appeal

Palestinian man shot by Israeli soldier as he lies on the ground

An Israel Defence Force (IDF) medic sentenced to 18 months in prison for killing a wounded Palestinian assailant has appealed against a manslaughter conviction that could have sent him to jail for a maximum 20-year term.

Three of Elor Azaria's defence attorneys announced they were quitting after the appeal was announced.

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

Azaria's trial was one of the most divisive in Israel's history.

In one opinion poll, nearly half of Israeli Jews said any Palestinian attacker should be killed on the spot.

Eleven months ago, Azaria was serving as an army medic in the town of Hebron in the occupied West Bank when two Palestinians stabbed and wounded another soldier.

One of the assailants was shot dead by troops. The other was shot and wounded. Eleven minutes later, as the wounded man, Abd Elfatah Ashareef, 21, lay on the ground unable to move, Azaria, then 19, took aim with his rifle and fatally shot him.

A three-judge military court convicted Azaria of manslaughter last month. It rejected his contention that he believed the man still posed a threat, admitting into evidence a video of the incident recorded by a Palestinian rights activist.

Imposing punishment lighter than a three-to-five year sentence requested by the prosecution, the court noted the Hebron incident had been Azaria's first combat experience and that his record had been unblemished.

The Palestinian government said the term imposed by the court had given Israeli soldiers a "green light" to carry out "executions without fear of real punishment".

In the statement announcing their resignation, the three defence lawyers also said that while they believed Azaria never should have been convicted, they had proposed to the soldier and his family that he pursue other options.

Those include a presidential pardon — which cannot be considered while an appeal process is ongoing — or a procedure in which an a military general can opt to reduce his sentence.

In the petition to a military appeals court, Azaria's remaining lawyer asked that the start of his incarceration be deferred until the end of legal proceedings.

Prosecutors, who have yet to decide whether to lodge an appeal for a stiffer sentence, had originally considered charging Azaria with murder. But they said it would have been difficult to meet the legal requirement of showing premeditation.

Additional reporting by Reuters

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in