An Israeli military court confirmed on Thursday that it would charge an Israeli soldier with manslaughter over the high-profile killing of a Palestinian in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron in March.
The killing of Abd al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif, 21, on March 24, sparked widespread outrage after footage by Israeli rights group B’Tselem showed an Israeli soldier shooting al-Sharif in the head while the young Palestinian was lying wounded on the ground after allegedly stabbing an Israeli soldier.
According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the prosecution officially announced on Thursday in front of the Jaffa military court that it would seek manslaughter charges against the soldier, identified by media outlets not bound by Israel’s gag orders as French-Israeli citizen Elor Azarya.
The prosecution requested an extension of the soldier’s remand to give themselves time to present an indictment on Monday, Haaretz reported.
According to Israeli news outlet Ynet, a small group of Azarya’s supporters demonstrated outside the courtroom, chanting “whoever kills terrorists is an Israeli hero.”
The manslaughter charge is a significant but expected downgrade after it was initially believed that the court would pursue murder charges. An autopsy earlier this month confirmed that al-Sharif was still alive before a bullet fired at his head at point-blank range by Azarya killed him.
Al-Sharif’s family has announced that they would file legal procedures against the Israeli army in front of an Israeli court, not long after Azarya was moved into open detention on a military base.
The international community has reacted in the wake of al-Sharif’s killing, expressing worries that it might be part of a broader Israeli “shoot to kill” policy against Palestinian suspected attackers.
“We are concerned this killing may not be a lone incident,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville said in a recent statement, adding that “all incidents where security forces have caused death or injury should be fully investigated, and those responsible brought to account.”
Rights groups have also repeatedly criticized Israel for offering impunity to Israelis who harm Palestinians.