Palestinians slam Israel soldier sentence, call it ‘green light’ for crimes

A Palestinian woman reacts during a protest following the sentencing of Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, in the West Bank City of Hebron February 21, 2017.

The sentencing of an Israeli soldier to 18 months for killing a wounded Palestinian assailant is a “green light” for the military’s “crimes,” a Palestinian government spokesman said Tuesday.

“The Palestinian government views this light ruling against the murderer soldier as a green light to the occupation army to continue its crimes,” spokesman Tarek Rishmawi told AFP shortly after an Israeli military court sentenced Elor Azaria for the killing of Abdul Fatah al-Sharif in the occupied West Bank in March 2016.


The family of the Palestinian killed reacted angrily to his sentencing, labelling the trial a “farce”.

Amnesty International said the sentence given to Elor Azaria, 21, for shooting dead Abdul Fatah al-Sharif in the southern West Bank was too light, while Human Rights Watch warned against proposals to pardon him.

Sharif was shot dead in March 2016 while lying on the ground, several minutes after he and another Palestinian had allegedly stabbed a soldier in the city of Hebron.

An Israeli military court found Azaria guilty of manslaughter and sentenced him on Tuesday.

“A year and a half is a farce,” Sharif’s father Yusri said. “It is only a mock trial to silence people and the families.”

“If one of us (a Palestinian) killed an animal they would have sentenced him for only God knows how long.”

Magdalena Mughrabi from Amnesty International said in a statement that Azaria’s conviction a month ago had “offered a glimmer of hope for accountability for unlawful killings by Israeli forces”.

“(But) the 18-month sentence for Elor Azaria does not reflect the gravity of the offence.”

Sari Bashi, Israel and Palestine advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, called the conviction an “important message about reining in excessive use of force.”

She warned, however, that pardoning him, as many ministers in Israel’s right-wing government have proposed, would “encourage impunity”.

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