Hebron IDF shooter found guilty of manslaughter

Sergeant Elor Azaria faces a maximum sentence of 20 years, and is expected to appeal against the conviction


An Israeli soldier who was filmed shooting dead a wounded Palestinian attacker has been found guilty of manslaughter.

Sgt Elor Azaria, who was 19 at the time, was convicted by a military court in Tel Aviv.

The court found Azaria acted outside the army’s rules of engagement when he killed Abdel Fattah al-Sharif.

It declared Azaria’s account of the incident was “unreliable and problematic” and said his defence was contradictory and flawed.

Sharif and another Palestinian had stabbed and wounded a solider at an Israeli military checkpoint.

Prosecutors called for Azaria to be charged with murder but they accepted a lesser charge of manslaughter.

The soldier faces a maximum sentence of 20 years, and is expected to appeal.

The case has polarised Israeli society. Hundreds protested outside the court ahead of the verdict, clashing with police and counter-demonstrators.

The shooting on 24 March, last year, was captured on video by a Palestinian human rights activist.

Frottage shows Sharif already wounded on the ground surrounded by soldiers and medics before Azaria shoots him in the head.

The court case focused on whether Azaria was justified in killing Sharif.

Judge Maya Heller rejected Azaria’s defence that Sharif was already dead at the time of the shooting, and that he felt threatened, telling the court “you can’t have it both ways”.

Witnesses said Azaria suggested Sharif “deserved to die” for wounding a fellow IDF soldier.

The court accepted the whitnesses account, saying the words carried “serious significance” in its decision.

Israeli politician, Yair Lapid, chairperson of Yesh Atid, called for calm following the verdict.

He said: “I call on everyone to end the violence and stop the irresponsible statements coming from within the political system. It’s not the way of the Jewish people, of the State of Israel or of the IDF.

“The court has made its decision and now we also have a role; to prevent a rift in our society and to ensure no harm comes to the people’s army.

“The State of Israel is powerful because of our wonderful military, our officers and our soldiers and because we are a country of law and order.”


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