Israeli Soldier Sentenced to 18 Months for Execution-Style Killing of Palestinian

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Family of Abdul Fattah al-Sharif, a 21-year-old Palestinian shot last year, sit in their Hebron home watching television coverage of the sentencing of Elor Azarya, the Israeli soldier convicted of killing him.

[ Ed. note – Abdul Fattah al-Sharif was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier in Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, on March 24, 2016. He was lying on the ground wounded at the time. His execution-style killing, which was captured on video, took place on the Jewish holiday of Purim. The video later went viral and made headlines around the world.

You can go here to watch the video of the shooting, and here to watch Israeli settlers celebrating Purim on the same Hebron streets later that same day. Al-Sharif and a companion, Ramzi Aziz Qasrawi, were both shot on March 24 following an alleged stabbing attack upon an Israeli soldier. I put up a number of posts last year on the incident, most notably Looks Like it Was a Purim Execution, which I published on March 25, and Ruled By the Insane, an article I wrote and published on April 19 and which deals with a protest held in Tel Aviv in support of the killer. Elor Azarya, the Israeli soldier who shot al-Sharif, was elevated to the status of national hero. Today Azarya was sentenced to 18 months by an Israeli military judicial panel.

The light sentencing underscores the fact that there are two standards of justice in Israel, one for Israeli Jews and another for Palestinians, which of course is the hallmark of apartheid. As the article below notes, Palestinian children will typically serve more time in jail simply for throwing rocks. ]

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Israeli Who Executed Injured Palestinian Gets Slap on the Wrist

By Michael F. Brown

Elor Azarya, the Israeli army medic who shot dead injured Palestinian Abd al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif last year in the occupied West Bank, was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in prison, one year of probation and a demotion.

If not pardoned first, he may walk free after serving just a year in prison.

The light sentence was imposed even though judges found beyond any doubt that Azarya had acted in revenge.

“We are not surprised, from the onset we knew this was a show trial that will not do us justice,” al-Sharif’s family told media. “Even though the soldier was caught on video and it is clear that this is a cold-blooded execution, he was convicted only of manslaughter, not murder, and the prosecution asked for only a light sentence of three years.”

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“The sentence he received is less than a Palestinian child gets for throwing stones,” the family added.

Azarya was indicted for manslaughter after he was caught on video shooting the head of the wounded and incapacitated al-Sharif lying in the street, killing him, on 24 March 2016.

Al-Sharif was shot dead along with Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, both 21 years old. Israel alleges that they stabbed a soldier near the Tel Rumeida settlement in Hebron.

The killing of al-Qasrawi was not caught on video.

Israeli hero

Significant segments of Israeli society – egged on by right-wing politicians including education minister Naftali Bennett and defense minister Avigdor Lieberman – objected to any trial at all for Azarya and have celebrated him as a hero.

The trial court found “beyond all reasonable doubt” that Azarya had acted out of revenge rather than in self-defense.

But after obtaining a conviction, prosecutors asked for only three to five years imprisonment.

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Elor Azarya with his mother in an Israeli military courtroom on February 25, 2017, shortly before being handed down his ridiculously light sentence.

At the time of the verdict, Human Rights Watch said that senior Israeli officials have been “encouraging Israeli soldiers and police to kill Palestinians they suspect of attacking Israelis even when they are no longer a threat.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly announced after the January conviction that Azarya should be pardoned.

He is accurately reading public sentiment, with Israelis reportedly supporting clemency by more than three to one.

Netanyahu, who is under investigation for corruption, is also trying to keep up with Bennett, a rival for the post of prime minister, who has repeatedly insisted Azarya be pardoned.

Impunity

The light sentence would appear to be another instance of the systematic impunity Israel affords its personnel who kill or injure Palestinians.

Last year, the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem announced it would no longer refer complaints of violence against Palestinians to Israel’s military justice system.

“We will no longer aid a system that whitewashes investigations and serves as a fig leaf for the occupation,” Hagai El-Ad, the group’s director, explained.

Samir Zaqout of the Gaza-based Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights told Al Jazeera he was not surprised by the outcome.

“Palestinians don’t expect any kind of justice from the Israeli legal system,” Zaqout said. “The lives of Palestinians are judged as worthless.”

Bill Fletcher, Jr., former president of TransAfrica Forum and a Palestine solidarity activist who was involved in the anti-apartheid movement, told The Electronic Intifada, “The sentencing of Elor Azarya reminds us that the value of Palestinian life is not the same as the value of Jewish citizens of Israel.”

“An 18-month sentence is nothing more than a slap on the hand,” Fletcher added. “It will do nothing to discourage further terrorist acts against Palestinians.”

Continued here

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