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Trial Opens for Israeli Soldier Who Killed Wounded Palestinian

FILE - Israeli solider Elor Azaria sits inside an Israeli military court in Tel Aviv, Israel, in an April 18, 2016, photo. If convicted, Azaria faces up to 20 years in prison.

The trial of an Israeli soldier accused of killing a wounded Palestinian assailant has opened at a military court near Tel Aviv.

Nineteen-year-old Elor Azaria faces charges of manslaughter and inappropriate conduct in the March 24 shooting.

The incident, in the West Bank city of Hebron, came to light after a video showed Azaria shooting dead 21-year-old Abdel-Fattah al-Sharif after he was on the ground and injured, following the stabbing of an Israeli soldier.

In its indictment, the military prosecution said Azaria "acted in contrast to the rules of opening fire and without any operational justification. It said the Palestinian assailant "did not present a clear and present threat."

Azaria's defense says he believed the assailant, though subdued, may have had a suicide explosive belt and posed a danger.

Thousands of Israelis rallied last month in support of the soldier, accusing the government of treating him unfairly. Azaria faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The incident came amid a wave of violence that started in October. Since then, Palestinian attacks have killed 28 Israelis, while Israeli forces have killed about 200 Palestinians; most, they say, were carrying out knife, gun or other attacks at the time.