An Israeli military court on Sunday upheld the 18-month sentence of a soldier convicted of fatally shooting a Palestinian attacker who lay on the ground wounded after stabbing and wounding another soldier, in a case that divided a country where military service is mandatory for most people.
Sgt. Elor Azaria, an army combat medic, was recorded on cellphone video as he fatally shot a badly wounded Palestinian who had attacked a soldier with a knife, wounding him. The Palestinian, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, was lying on the ground unarmed when Azaria shot him in the head.
The 2016 incident occurred in the volatile West Bank city of Hebron at a time of frequent Palestinian attacks.
Israel’s top generals pushed for the prosecution of the soldier they say violated the military’s code of ethics. Azaria was convicted earlier this year of manslaughter and sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Large segments of the public, including politicians on Israel’s nationalist right, sided with Azaria. Some called him a hero who was being wrongly persecuted.
‘Forbidden and immoral’ actions
In Israel, military service is compulsory for most Jewish men and women, and soldiers enjoy widespread sympathy and support as they operate in complex scenarios.
The verdict said “unnecessary taking human life, even if it is of a terrorist, is morally forbidden and contradicts the ethics of the Israeli army.”
It called the soldier’s actions “grave, forbidden and immoral” and in sharp contrast to the military’s strict “purity of arms”
code of conduct.
The soldier will enter prison on August 9 unless there isanother appeal.
“All the terrorists are laughing at us,” the soldier’s mother, Oshra, cried after the verdict.
Israel’s Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman issued a statement urging the soldier’s family not to continue appealing. “It’s a difficult day,” he said, adding the ruling must be respected. He said the military’s chief of staff should be asked to pardon Azaria.
“I have no doubt he will take into consideration the difficult circumstances,” he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later tweeted that he will recommend a pardon.
Israel’s military chief of staff later said if a request for pardon is submitted, he would “seriously consider” it.
Fathi al-Sharif, an uncle of the Palestinian…