Court Upholds Sentence for Israeli Killer Soldier

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Court Upholds Sentence for Israeli Killer Soldier

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)

Last March, video evidence showed IDF sergeant Elor Azaria murdered Palestinian ‘Abd al-Fatah al-Sharif in cold blood as he lay helpless, wounded on the ground, threatening no one.

He lethally shot him in the head at point-blank range, extrajudicially executing him for being Arab in a Jewish state.

Instead of first-degree murder, a capital offense requiring severe punishment, Azaria was charged with manslaughter.

Rarely ever are Israeli security forces or Jewish civilians charged for crimes against Palestinians. Soldiers and police are nearly always free to kill with impunity.

Azaria was caught red-handed, indisputable video evidence that went viral online, showing he killed without just cause.

Sentenced to 18 months in prison, he appealed. On Sunday, an Israeli court upheld his conviction, a three-to-two decision, calling his offense “forbidden, severe (and) immoral,” adding “ethics are fundamental for an army’s resilience both externally and internally.”

“The punishment is on the lower edge of appropriate sentencing.” Despite the severity of his crime, he “never expressed remorse or questioned his actions,” one of the main reasons for upholding his sentence, the ruling stated.

Since the lethal shooting occurred in March 2016, he was imprisoned for only nine days, the remaining time confined to base – hardly just punishment for cold-blooded murder.

His fate is still uncertain. His lawyers could appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court. They could seek a reduced sentence from the IDF chief of staff, or request a presidential pardon.

Netanyahu supports Azaria, earlier saying (o)ur soldiers are not murderers.” The so-called world’s most moral army myth was debunked long ago.

Israeli soldiers are trained to hate Arabs, to kill with impunity. If video evidence of Alor’s high crime hadn’t gone viral, he never would have been charged, tried and convicted.

Since January 2017 alone, Israeli soldiers and police killed over 50 defenseless Palestinians in cold blood – none charged with a crime. Azaria’s conviction is a rare exception proving the rule.

Killing Arabs is OK, not the other way around.

After Azaria’s sentencing, Netanyahu said “(t)his is a difficult and painful day – first and foremost for Elor, his family, Israel’s soldiers, many citizens and parents of soldiers, among them me…I support granting a pardon to Elor Azaria,” a president prerogative.

On Sunday, he said “(m)y opinion has not changed on pardoning Elor, as I expressed it after the (initial) verdict. When the issue comes up for discussion, I will give my recommendation for a pardon to the relevant authorities.”

President Reuven Rivlin said he’ll wait for completion of the legal process before deciding. A statement issued by his office said “(i)n the event that a pardon should be requested, it will be considered by the president in accordance with standard practices and after recommendations from the relevant authorities.”

Israeli philosophy Professor Asa Kasher blasted Azaria’s soft sentence, saying it’s “too light…The theoretical structure the law speaks about punishment for manslaughter (that) can go to 20 years.”

“Everything has been left at the lowest level of punishment. That is an apologetic attitude and damages the ethical code and values of human life and purity of arms. It sends a terrible message.”

Azaria is a medic, mandated to help the wounded. He should have treated ‘Abd al-Fatah al-Sharif instead of murdering him in cold blood.

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Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.