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Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter over killing of wounded Palestinian man

Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter over killing of wounded Palestinian man

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced support for the pardoning of IDF soldier Elor Azaria, who was convicted of manslaughter by a military court on Wednesday.

Israel held its breath Wednesday for the verdict in the trial of a young soldier accused of fatally shooting a wounded and immobilized Palestinian assailant in Hebron - a case that has divided opinion and triggered protests.

Azaria was a 19-year-old military medic in the city of Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank when al-Sharif and Ramzi Aziz al-Qasarwi carried out a knife attack, lightly wounding a soldier.

Justices rejected Azaria's claim that believed the man, who had just stabbed a soldier at the site, was wired with a suicide belt and still posed a threat. Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev vowed to work towards Azaria's pardon, Jerusalem Post reports.

"This is a hard and painful day - first and foremost for Elor, his family, Israel's soldiers, many citizens and parents of soldiers, among them me".

"The verdict is a small step in the right direction and offers a glimmer of hope that soldiers who commit unlawful killings may no longer go unpunished", said Philip Luther, research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

"He should be sentenced in this court like they do with Palestinians... life sentences, torture and then ending up dead lying in a refrigerator", Yusri al-Sharif, the victim's father, told Al-Jazeera. Mr Azaria faces up to 20 years in prison.

TRT World's James Champion has more.

Israeli media has kept a close eye on the drawn-out proceedings, which saw a stream of witnesses and experts testifying for or against the soldier.




She called his testimony "evolving and evasive".

The shooting came at the height of a wave of Palestinian stabbing and ramming attacks, amid criticism that Israeli soldiers were too quick to pull the trigger in response, often killing the assailants.

"I'm not authorised to pardon anyone, that's up to the chief of staff. Calls for a pardon are propaganda and indicate ignorance" of the law, he said.

Azaria would need to submit a pardon request to President Reuven Rivlin or the Israeli Defense Forces. The trial's outcome could now determine how much faith other parents place in the military.

A spokesman for the family of the Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of an incapacitated Palestinian attacker says the court ignored evidence indicating the soldier was innocent.

He will be sentenced at a later date.

Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman said he agreed with the "difficult verdict", while military prosecutor Lt Col Nadav Weissman said it was "not a happy day for us. but the deed was done and the offence was severe".

According to AFP news agency, Judge Colonel Maya Heller spent more than two and a half hours reading out the decision, sharply criticising the arguments of Azaria's lawyers. Israel's military has said it believes a significant number of them were essentially on suicide missions.

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