Army indicts soldier for killing wounded Palestinian attacker
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Army indicts soldier for killing wounded Palestinian attacker

Elor Azaria charged with manslaughter, improper conduct; court lifts gag order on infantryman’s identity

Sgt. Elor Azaria, accused of killing a disarmed Palestinian attacker in Hebron last month, arrives for a court hearing at Jaffa Military Court on April 18, 2016. (Flash90)
Sgt. Elor Azaria, accused of killing a disarmed Palestinian attacker in Hebron last month, arrives for a court hearing at Jaffa Military Court on April 18, 2016. (Flash90)

A military court indicted Israel Defense Forces soldier Elor Azaria for manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a wounded Palestinian attacker in the West Bank Monday.

Azaria, a 19-year-old sergeant in the Kfir infantry Brigade, was also charged with inappropriate military conduct.

His name had been kept under gag order until late Monday afternoon, when a court gave the okay to publish his identity after a request from the soldier’s lawyers.

The shooting took place last month in Hebron, a West Bank city that has been a focal point of a seven-month wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Sgt. Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier who shot dead a disarmed Palestinian terrorist in Hebron last month, arrives for a court hearing at Jaffa Military Court on April 18, 2016. (Flash90)
Sgt. Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier who shot dead a disarmed Palestinian terrorist in Hebron last month, arrives for a court hearing at Jaffa Military Court on April 18, 2016. (Flash90)

Two Palestinians stabbed and wounded a soldier before troops killed one of them and shot and wounded the other. A video later showed one of the attackers, Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, still alive minutes later before Azaria shot him in the head.

“The accused violated the rules of engagement without operational justification as the terrorist was lying on the ground wounded and represented no immediate threat for the accused or others who were present,” a copy of the indictment said. “By his acts, the accused unlawfully caused the death of the terrorist Abdul Sharif.”

Video of the incident in Hebron spread widely online and the soldier was arrested, with rights groups labeling it a summary execution.

The case has led to major controversy in Israel and sparked political tensions, with far-right supporters and politicians calling for the soldier’s release.

Top military brass have, however, strongly condemned Azaria’s actions.

The lawyer for the soldier told the Jaffa Military Court that the defendant believed children were approaching for a Purim parade when he opened fire.

“There was a large information gap between the soldier and extensively experienced officers who had all the information,” the lawyer says. “He thought that the adloyada [Purim parade] would soon be starting and the children of Hebron would enter the arena. He did not have all the information in front of him.”

Azaria’s family and other supporters are planning a demonstration in his support in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

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