Military Prosecution Seeks 3-5 Years for Israeli Soldier Who Killed Palestinian Attacker

Prosecutor asks court to show leniency to Sgt. Elor Azaria, who was convicted of manslaughter in the killing an unarmed wounded Palestinian assailant.

Elor Azaria in a Jaffa courtroom.
Tomer Appelbaum

The military prosecution in the trial of Israel Defense Forces soldier Sgt. Elor Azaria, who was convicted of manslaughter, asked the court on Tuesday to impose a sentence of between three and five years imprisonment.

Azaria, an army medic, was convicted of killing Abd Fatah al-Sharif in Hebron in March last year while the victim was lying wounded and immobile on the ground. Al-Sharif and another man had earlier attacked another soldier with knives.

Addressing the military court, prosecutor Lt. Col. Nadav Weisman stressed that Azaria had been convicted of a serious crime which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment.

"The court ruled that the defendant's action was carried out with the intention of killing the terrorist due to his previous actions and not out of any sense of danger," Weisman ruled.

He also noted that Azaria had not expressed remorse for his actions and had even stated that he would do it again.

Nevertheless, Weisman said, there were reasons for the court to show leniency. Until the incident, Azaria had been known as "a positive person," he said, and evidence that was presented to the court indicated that the incident was of an "exceptional nature."

"It's abundantly clear that the action was not premeditated it germinated after one of his comrades was stabbed," Weisman said. "I also can’t ignore the fact that the defendant shot a terrorist who had tried to kill a comrade of his 11 minutes earlier."

"What he did was forbidden and should be condemned, but it has a background," Weisman said, recommending that the court impose a sentence "on the low end of the punishment scale."