An Israeli soldier who killed a wounded Palestinian in the West Bank city of Hebron in March last year has been found guilty of manslaughter at the end of one of the country’s most polarising
court cases in recent memory.
A military court sitting in Tel Aviv ruled that Sgt Elor Azaria, who was 19 at the time, had acted outside the army’s rules of engagement when he killed Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, shortly after Sharif and
another Palestinian had stabbed and wounded a solider at an Israeli military checkpoint.
The other Palestinian involved in the knife attack was shot and died
immediately, but Sharif was only wounded before Azaria
cocked his rifle and fatally shot him from several metres away. Accounts of the incident given by Azaria were “unreliable and problematic” and his defence contradictory and flawed, the court said.
Prosecutors had called for Azaria to be charged with murder but instead settled on a lesser charge of manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
Sentencing is expected in about a month and Azaria is likely to appeal.
He had earlier arrived in court with his family, while supporters, including far- right fans of the Beitar football club, gathered outside. Scuffles erupted while
the verdict was being read out.
The shooting on 24 March last year
prompted international condemnation after being captured on video by a Palestinian human rights activist.