Israeli soldier convicted for shooting wounded Palestinian

Jerusalem, Jan 4 (IANS) An Israeli soldier accused of shooting dead a wounded Palestinian attacker after he had been disarmed of a knife has been convicted for manslaughter in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.

Sgt Elor Azaria, 20, shot Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, 21, in the head while he was lying immobile on a road. The incident happened in Hebron in the occupied West Bank last March, BBC reported.

Sgt Azaria said he thought Sharif might have an explosive vest but prosecutors said his motive was revenge.

The high-profile trial proved extremely divisive in Israel. There have been rallies to support the soldier and some senior politicians backed Sgt Azaria.

However, top military figures were quick to say that his actions did not reflect the values of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

A panel of three judges determined after the contentious eight-month trial that Sgt Azaria’s shooting of Sharif was not justified. His defence that he shot Sharif because he continued to pose a threat was rejected.

In the incident on March 24, Sharif and another 21-year-old Palestinian, Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier before troops opened fire on them, wounding Sharif and killing Qasrawi.

Footage of the scene several minutes later, filmed by a Palestinian and released by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, showed Sharif alive.

Sgt Azaria was then seen cocking his rifle and fatally shooting Sharif from several metres away.

In their indictment, prosecutors said Sgt Azaria “violated the rules of engagement without operational justification as the terrorist was lying on the ground wounded and represented no immediate threat for the accused or others who were present”.