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Israeli soldier charged with killing Palestinian man released for Passover

The conscript medic at the centre of the controversial shooting of a Palestinian man has been allowed two days leave to celebrate the holiday


Kayleigh Lewis
Saturday 23 April 2016 17:01 BST
Elor Azaria has been charged with manslaughter and inappropriate military conduct
Elor Azaria has been charged with manslaughter and inappropriate military conduct (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

An Israeli soldier charged with manslaughter for shooting a Palestinian man dead has been released for two days so he can celebrate Passover with his family.

Sergeant Elor Azaria, 19, has been at the centre of the divisive case after he shot the Palestinian man in the head at close range in Hebron in an incident caught on camera.

The victim, Abdel Fattah Al-Sharif, had been involved in a knife attack, however the video clearly showed the assailant – who had already been shot – was incapacitated when Mr Azaria killed him.

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

Since his arrest, Mr Azaria has been held in an on-base detention centre, as ordered by a military court, and will return there after the holiday until the case is concluded.

Family and friends welcomed Mr Azaria to his home in Ramle in a celebratory fashion, the Times of Israel reported, and his father Charlie thanked people for their support.

Speaking to journalists outside their home, he also thanked the judges who allowed his son to “have the holiday at home”.

“With God’s help this whole thing will end and we’ll go back to being a normal family. We love Israel, we’re not enemies of the state,” he said.

The Israeli military has filed charges of manslaughter and inappropriate military conduct against the conscript infantry medic, after initially detaining him on a murder warrant.

According to his charge sheet: “The terrorist ... was left lying on the ground, still alive, and did not present any immediate and tangible danger to the civilians and soldiers around him.”

The young soldier, it said, handed his helmet to a comrade, cocked his rifle, walked a few steps towards the Palestinian and “fired one bullet at the terrorist's head”, which killed him.

This action violates the rules of engagement and has no “operational justification”, it added.

Those defending Mr Azaria say at the time he feared the Palestinian had a hidden bomb.

Despite the charges – and the footage of the incident filmed by a Palestinian onlooker – a poll conducted last month found 57 per cent of respondents did not think the young soldier should have been arrested. An online petition calling for him to be decorated as a hero has more than 62,000 signatures and thousands have demonstrated in Tel Aviv calling for his release.

If found guilty of manslaughter, Mr Azaria could be sentenced for up to 20 years in prison.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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