Israeli Soldier Gets 18 Months In Prison For Killing Wounded Palestinian Attacker

Sgt. Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a wounded Palestinian knife attack suspect, was sentenced to 18 months in military prison Tuesday.

The decision to court-martial Sergeant Elor Azaria, who shot the Palestinian after he had stabbed another soldier in the occupied West Bank last March, stirred controversy in Israel from the start, with opinion polls showing strong support for the army medic.

Passing an 18-month sentence, the court said Azaria had "taken upon himself to be both judge and executioner" and had not expressed regret for his crime.

Azaria shot and killed Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif in March after al-Sharif had already been shot and injured following an alleged attempted stabbing attack in Hebron. During the same time, Israeli forces have killed 235 Palestinians, a lot of them said to be attackers.

"There's a struggle going on between those who believe that despite the terrorism we have to maintain our humanity and basic values, and others who think those values are a luxury for a society in constant conflict with no end in sight", he said. Israel's President Reuven Rivlin can also issue a pardon.

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Following the court's sentencing, Azaria's defense vowed to appeal the ruling, while several high-ranking Israeli politicians called for a pardon in his case. Israeli soldiers are not held to account.

Last year's shooting was caught on camera by a Palestinian activist, leading to a split within the Israeli government when the military moved to prosecute Azaria despite vocal opposition from Israel's far right - including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The killing received widespread coverage after footage of the incident, filmed on a mobile phone, was shown on Israeli news programmes.

The other was shot and wounded before being shot and killed by Azaria, who was then 19.

The reaction from Palestinians and rights groups, however, was anger and disappointment.

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"Sending Elor Azaria to prison for his crime sends an important message about reigning in excessive use of force, said Sari Bashi, Israel and Palestine Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement".

The father, Yusri al-Sharif, told BBC the sentence was a "joke" and the Israeli authorities were "laughing in our face".

"One can not use this type of force, even if we're talking about an enemy's life", the court said.

Azaria, confined to his camp during the trial, was ordered to begin serving his sentence on March 5. "Not only do I doubt he will even serve a full prison sentence, I doubt he will be put on any kind of probation or be demoted in the military".

Azaria entered the packed courtroom to applause from friends.

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The family showed no emotion at first, later they sang the Israeli national anthem.