The family of Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, the Palestinian assailant shot dead by an Israeli soldier after being wounded during an attack in Hebron, blasted Israel’s military courts Tuesday for what they called the lenient sentence for Elor Azaria, the soldier convicted of shooting the supine assailant.
“We are not surprised, from the onset we knew this was a show trial that will not do us justice. 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.
“The sentence he received is less than a Palestinian child gets for throwing stones.”
Azaria was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in jail, a year’s probation and a demotion in rank for his actions nearly one year ago. The military prosecution originally demanded a sentence of three-to-five years.
To put the family’s comments in context, in September, 2015, Israel’s security cabinet set a 4-year minimum sentence for stone and firebomb throwers, an order the prime minister’s bureau said would remain in effect for three years.
Azaria’s case first made news after video emerged in March 2016 showing Azaria shooting and al-Sharif in the head even as he lay immobile, wounded on the ground. Just minutes before, al-Sharif had attacked Israeli soldiers at the scene who responded and wounded him.
After nearly a year of hearings at military courts, Azaria is due to begin serving his sentence on May 5, but al-Sharif’s family were not the only ones Tuesday to be disappointed in the sentence.
Right-wing politicians reacted to the news quickly, saying that a pardon should be handed down to Azaria, though the process to get one could be lengthy. From the other side of the political aisle, Israeli-Arab lawmakers said the sentence showed that Palestinian blood is worthless.