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Court Upholds Sentence for Israeli Soldier Who Killed Unarmed Palestinian

  • VOA News

Elor Azaria escorted by his mother arrives to Israeli military court in Tel Aviv, Sunday, July 30, 2017.

An Israeli military court has rejected a soldier's appeal after he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for killing a Palestinian.

Elor Azaria, 20, was convicted of manslaughter in January for fatally shooting an incapacitated Palestinian assailant in the West Bank nearly a year ago.

The landmark case polarized the nation, pitting much of the public against Israel’s most prized and respected institution, the army. In a rare move, the military condemned a soldier’s actions during a Palestinian attack, while many ordinary people were appalled that an Israeli youth serving on the front lines was hauled into court like a common criminal.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted Sunday he would recommend a pardon for Azaria.

The incident in question took place last March in the West Bank town of Hebron, when two Palestinians went on a stabbing rampage targeting Israeli troops. One assailant was shot dead by soldiers and the other was wounded, lying incapacitated on the ground.

Eleven minutes later, a cell-phone video caught Azaria taking aim at the 21-year-old injured Palestinian and shooting him in the head. The soldier claimed that he feared the man was booby-trapped with a bomb; but commanders quickly disputed that and Azaria was put on trial for violating the army’s code of moral conduct.