A young Israeli soldier convicted of killing a Palestinian assailant lying wounded on the ground was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment on Tuesday, far less than prosecutors requested, in one of the most divisive cases in Israel’s history.
The decision to court-martial Sergeant Elor Azaria, who shot the Palestinian after he had stabbed another soldier in the occupied West Bank last March, stirred controversy in Israel from the start, with opinion polls showing strong support for the army medic.
A military court last month found Azaria guilty of manslaughter, a crime that carries a top punishment of 20 years in jail.
The prosecution asked that Azaria be sentenced to three to five years behind bars, far below the maximum term, noting that he had shot a Palestinian who only minutes earlier had carried out an attack.
Eleven months ago, Azaria, then 19, was serving in the town of Hebron when two Palestinians carried out the stabbing. Hebron has been a longtime flashpoint of violence, and the incident occurred during a wave of Palestinian street attacks on Israelis.
One of the two 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 incapacitated, Azaria shot him in the head with an assault rifle.—Reuters