Jail sought for IDF soldier who shot prone Palestinian attacker
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Jail sought for IDF soldier who shot prone Palestinian attacker

Length of sentence for Elor Azaria not specified by military prosecutor; verdict expected in next few weeks

Elior Azaria seen with his father, left, during a court hearing at a military court in Jaffa, November 23, 2016. (Photo by Flash90)
Elior Azaria seen with his father, left, during a court hearing at a military court in Jaffa, November 23, 2016. (Photo by Flash90)

Military prosecutors in Israel on Wednesday demanded prison time for an IDF soldier on trial for manslaughter for allegedly shooting and killing an already subdued Palestinian stabber earlier this year.

Sergeant Elor Azaria, 19, shot the 21-year-old Palestinian on March 24 in the city of Hebron, in the southern West Bank.

A video widely circulated online appeared to show Azaria, who holds Israeli and French citizenship, shooting Abdul Fatah al-Sharif in the head despite him lying flat on the ground, seemingly posing no threat.

The case has divided Israel, with some calling for Azaria to be jailed and others saying he was responding to a threat from Sharif, who stabbed another soldier minutes before, along with an accomplice.

“I have read thousands of pages without ever finding in Israel or the world a single legal document that declares it legal to shoot at a person who has been shot and wounded for many minutes,” prosecutor Nadav Weissman said in his summing up.

Many Palestinians see the killing as calculated execution.

Speaking in a military court in Tel Aviv’s Jaffa district on Wednesday, six months after the trial opened, Weissman said the “fundamental principles” of the Israeli army were on trial.

Weissman said that if Azaria escapes a conviction it would create a dangerous precedent he dubbed “Azaria’s Law”.

He did not ask for a specific length of sentence.

Azaria, dressed in his military uniform and sitting near his family, appeared distracted for large parts of proceedings.

His lawyer Ilan Katz said Azaria had acted in self-defence, and added that the case showed the world had been turned upside down.

“The terrorist has become the victim,” he said.

Azaria’s case has sparked fierce debate among Israelis, with many advocating for the army to abide by ethical values such as proportionate use of force.

Others have defended his actions by pointing to the spree of Palestinian attacks over the past year and arguing he was acting under the orders of his officers.

Outside the court, a few dozen supporters of the soldier, some wearing T-shirts saying “I am also Elor Azaria,” protested against the trial.

A verdict is expected in December or January.

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