Azaria’s relatives screamed in the courtroom as the verdict was being read. In March 2016, two Palestinians stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier on patrol in the West Bank city of Hebron. At one point, he raised his weapon and shot the injured Sharif in the head at close range. The court said it gave weight to testimony the soldier said at the scene that the Palestinian deserved to die because he stabbed his fellow soldier. Defense lawyers argued the soldier was told the Palestinian attacker was wearing an explosive device, and shot him so he wouldn’t set it off. Many in Israel see these weighty questions — and the complexity of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians — now weighing on one 20-year-old soldier’s shoulders. How has the case reverberated in Israel? The footage went viral and immediately sparked controversy, leading to the soldier’s trial for manslaughter. How did Sharif’s family react? Many Palestinians say this was just one of numerous cases of excessive use of force against Palestinians by Israeli troops. What happened? Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank has been brought to the fore recently. But some of his senior cabinet ministers are calling for major changes, like annexing the West Bank to Israel, and blocking the creation of a Palestinian state. And many in the Israeli public, including some Israeli cabinet ministers, said Palestinians who stab Israelis must be prepared to be killed. A Palestinian man on the street took out his video camera and filmed what happened next. His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. The president does. They say a soldier cannot execute a man if the man is incapacitated and no longer posing a threat, even if he is the enemy. Sharif’s father said he smoked two packs of cigarettes out of nervousness as he watched the verdict being delivered live on Israeli television. So has Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, although he does not have the power to grant it. Some Israeli cabinet ministers and one prominent Israeli opposition lawmaker called for a pardon to be granted to Azaria. PRI.org
Sgt. Elor Azaria is only the second soldier to be convicted of manslaughter since the year 2000, and the case has caused a major rift in Israeli society. A long courtroom drama has come to an end: An Israeli military court has convicted a 20-year-old soldier of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a 21-year-old Palestinian attacker, which was caught on video.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. How did Azaria’s family and supporters respond to the ruling? 15. Here’s why this story matters. But a large swath of the Israeli public sympathized with the soldier, saying he was sent to a tough spot in the West Bank to defend the country at a tense time, and should not be punished for his actions in the heat of the moment. In the majority of the cases, Israeli troops or armed civilians responded to an attack or an attempted attack by shooting the Palestinian and killing or injuring him or her. The military judge said Azaria’s lines of defense were contradictory. Some carried signs with slogans like “Today it’s Elor, tomorrow it’s your son.” One demonstrator carried a Donald Trump banner. Israeli military leaders said Azaria’s shooting Sharif was against Israeli military ethics. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he supports granting clemency to the soldier. He said he was very happy with the result. The court said he acted out of revenge, not self-defense. US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a major speech in December that the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in peril. The majority of Israeli Jewish high school graduates are conscripted into the army, and many feel this soldier could have been anyone’s child. But the defense also argued the Palestinian was dead before the soldier shot him. The context is important: This shooting took place during a tense period of stabbing attacks by Palestinians against Israeli soldiers and civilians. Israeli troops immediately responded during the stabbing attack, shooting the two Palestinian attackers. One died, while the other, 21-year-old Abdul Fattah al-Sharif, remained injured face up in the street. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he supports the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state alongside Israel. Human rights groups and Palestinians accused Israel of excessive use of force in those incidents. One woman screamed “disgusting leftists,” while the soldier’s mother cried out to the judges: “You should be ashamed of yourselves.”
Outside the courtroom, hundreds of the soldier’s supporters gathered, briefly blocking a busy intersection. Azaria, a medic who was then 19 years old, stood at the scene with other soldiers. Why did the court convict the soldier? They hope President-elect Donald Trump will support those moves. Why does this case matter now?