Israeli soldier guilty of manslaughter for shooting unconscious Palestinian

Israeli soldier guilty of manslaughter for shooting unconscious Palestinian
3 min read
04 January, 2017
Elor Azaria, who was found guilty of manslaughter on Wednesday, said Abdul Fatah al-Sharif deserved to die after he shot Sharif in the head upon realising he was alive.
The family of Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, who was shot and killed while unconscious [AFP]
An Israeli soldier was found guilty of manslaughter on Wednesday for killing a Palestinian man who was already lying unconscious.

Elor Azaria, 20, was found to have "violated" the rules of engagement in March when he shot Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, 21, in the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood of Hebron's Old City.

In sentencing, Azaria smiled as Judge Maya Heller described his actions as "cold and calculated".

"He opened fired in violation of orders, the terrorist did not pose any threat." 

Azaria told investigators after the attack: "He deserved to die, he stabbed my friend."

Israeli soldiers retaliated to the stabbing attack by opening fire on Sharif and killing another Palestinian man, Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, 21.

Translation: The two young men killed, Abdul Fattah al-Sharif and Ramzi al-Qasrawi,
bringing the number of martyrs killed since last October to 209

A video has since emerged of the extra-judicial killing, showing a large group of soldiers and paramedics at the scene of the murder.

One man shouted in Hebrew: "The terrorist is still alive, the dog," before Azaria cocked his rifle and shot him in the head from a short distance.

Another video seen by the court shows the knife being moved towards Azaria after the shooting.

Speaking at the military court, a settler chief said that the practice of shooting incapacitated Palestinians in the head was common, as it was believed to prevent them from detonating explosives.

In sentencing, the judge said that no-one at the scene acted as though there were a danger of a suicide belt.

"It's not just about potentially rogue soldiers, but also about senior Israeli officials who publicly tell security forces to unlawfully shoot-to-kill," said Sari Bashi, Israel advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.A recent report from Human Rights Watch found that Israeli forces were operating a "shoot to kill" policy and using excessive force due to commands from above.

The report quotes Jerusalem Police District Commander, Moshe Edri, who said that Palestinians who attack soldiers would be killed.

"Within less than a minute and a half, the attacker had already been killed. Everyone who stabs Jews or harms innocent people – should be killed".

The attack has since become highly politicised, with a number of right-wing Israeli politicians arguing that the killing was legitimate.

"I'm not determining if [the soldier's] conduct was correct or wrong," Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said.

"What's clear is I prefer a soldier who made a mistake and stayed alive over a soldier who hesitates and is murdered by a terrorist."

A survey by a national Israeli TV channel found that 57 percent of those who responded believed that Azaria had acted correctly.

Police arrested a number of protesters who became aggressive outside the court on Wednesday morning.

Standing among the protesters was the ultra-nationalist law-maker, MK Oren Hazan, who has proposed establishing a new law that would protect soldiers like Azaria in future cases of a similar kind.