Israeli military courts usually take a hard line when it comes to judging matters of principle, or for those matters considered to be central to the military experience, such as in the case of the theft of weapons.
The case of Sgt. Elor Azaria, who was convicted by a military court of manslaughter and sentenced to 18 months in a military prison, 18 months of probation and a demotion in rank to private, raises some serious questions as to how this sentence was determined, and how it fits into the military court's sentencing guidelines. Azaria, an IDF medic, shot and killed Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, a Palestinian attacker, in Hebron while Sharif was lying wounded and immobile on the ground.
While every crime is different and manslaughter cannot be compared to desertion, drug use or battery, examining a number of previous cases in military courts shows how they apply the sentencing guidelines:
1. A soldier who committed arson by setting a plane at the Air Force museum on fire was convicted in a plea bargain agreement of destroying an aircraft, and was sentenced to 18 months in prison and payment of 5,400 shekels ($1,450) in compensation, the maximum amount allowed under military law.
2. A soldier who was a deserter for over three years during his compulsory military service was sentenced to 14 months in prison.
3. A noncommissioned officer who broke into army bunkers, removed a large quantity of weapons (10 antitank missiles, 34 fragmentation grenades, explosives and thousands of bullets) and sold them, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. His partner in crime was sentenced to nine years in prison.
4. A soldier who abused Palestinians and gave them electric shocks using a medical device was sentenced to nine months in prison.
5. A soldier who accidently shot and killed a friend was convicted of manslaughter and in a plea bargain agreement was sentenced to 28 months in prison.
6. A soldier convicted of providing classified information to right-wing activists was sentenced to 45 months in prison.
7. A soldier who stole two antitank missiles and 13 hand grenades was convicted in a plea bargain agreement, and sentenced to five years in prison. As part of the plea bargain agreement he returned the two missiles to the army as well as four of the grenades. A soldier convicted of aiding him was sentenced to 39 months in prison.
8. A soldier who struck another soldier with a broken glass was convicted in a plea bargain deal and sentenced to nine months in prison.
9. A soldier who smoked marijuana and another drug, known as "Nice Guy," including while on guard duty in an army post, was sentenced to 11 months in prison in a plea bargain agreement.
10. A soldier who attacked another soldier with kitchen knives and injured him lightly was sentenced to 15 months in prison.
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