Israeli soldier convicted of murdering Palestinian let out of jail early


By Middle East Affairs

After nine months in jail, Israeli soldier Elor Azaria was released after having his sentence shortened on three occasions.

The killing of of Abdul Fatah al-Sharif in occupied West Bank was caught on video on March 24 2016. It shows Azaria walking up to and shooting al Sharif as he was lying wounded on the ground.

Sharif, alongside Ramzi Aziz al-Tamimi al-Qasrawi, had walked to an Israeli military post where they stabbed and wounded an Israeli solider. The soldiers from the post opened fire and instantly killed al-Qasrawi, while al-Sharif was seriously injured.

Al Jazeera reports that al Sharif’s family has said the soldier’s sentence “is less than (what) a Palestinian child gets for throwing stones.”

Azaria was originally sentenced to 18 months in prison, later reduced by the the army’s chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot, to 14 months. It is normal protocol for Israeli prisoners, especially soldiers, to have their sentences reduced by one-third for good behavior.

This week Azaria was released earlier then expected to attend his brother’s wedding.

Azaria has never expressed remorse for his actions and maintains that he shot al-Sharif because he believed him to have a bomb under his clothing.

Israeli officials such as Minister of Education Naftali Bennet and Minister of Transportation and Intelligence Israel Katz have championed Azaria’s release.

Katz appealed to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to clear Azaria’s criminal record, while Bennet addressed Azaria with a tweet that said: “It’s so good to have you home!”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also called for Azaria to be pardoned.

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