Israeli Soldier Azaria's Lawyers Resign Over Decision to Appeal Manslaughter Conviction

'We also believe the verdict was wrong but that we reached the end of the road in this case,' say Elor Azaria's attorneys.

Azaria's defense team: Eyal Besserglick, Yoram Sheftal and Ilan Katz.
Moti Milrod

The attorneys of convicted soldier Elor Azaria resigned on Wednesday after his family decided with a separate lawyer to appeal his manslaughter conviction.

Azaria was sentenced to the minimum 18 months last week in an Israeli military court for killing a subdued Palestinian who was shot after stabbing a soldier in Hebron last March.

Azaria's lawyers said in a statement that they had worked night and day with unending motivation to obtain what they described as a "fantastic and impossible result in a murder case that became manslaughter" even with the presence of video documenting the incident.

The soldier was filmed shooting in the head Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, who was lying virtually motionless on the ground after being shot several times.

"We also believe the verdict was wrong but that we reached the end of the road in this case," the lawyers said, adding that it was time to look at alternative venues to benefit the soldier

The decision to appeal Azaria's conviction put an end for the time being to the possibility of lightening his punishment. Last week, after the judges handed down Azaria's sentence, differences of opinion arose among his lawyers regarding a possible appeal. Opponents of an appeal believed that doing so could hurt the interests of Azaria, who had received a relatively lenient sentence.

The judges voted 2-1 on the 18-month sentence, which the third judge wanted to make longer. He also received an 18-month suspended sentence and was demoted to the rank of private.

Azaria is due to enter Prison 6, located near Atlit, on Sunday, according to the court decision.