An Israeli military court on Thursday granted the request of Israeli soldier Elor Azarya — who was convicted last month of manslaughter for the filmed, execution-style shooting of 21-year-old Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif –to postpone the beginning of his 18-month sentence until a ruling is made on his appeal, according to Israeli news website Ynet.
According to Ynet, Azarya was set to start his prison sentence on Sunday March 5, but with Thursday’s decision, he will remain under “open detention” at his unit’s base, similar to the months he has already spent on open detention.
Ynet quoted the judge as saying during the hearing that Azarya “has proven he poses no danger to the public and that there’s no fear he would try to escape justice.”
Though the prosecution initially objected to Azarya’s request, saying “the defendant was convicted of manslaughter, carried out an intentional killing, was motivated by the desire for revenge, broke army orders, violated the army’s values,” it eventually dropped its objection.
Azarya’s lawyer Yoram Sheftel claimed that “nine out of ten soldiers” want Azarya to be released, and went on to note the “massive gap” between the guilty verdict and what “millions of Jews in the state of Israel think.”
Ynet added that the court ordered Azarya’s lawyer to file the full appeal on Sunday, and that a date for the appeal hearing “will be set as soon as possible.”
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Azarya is the only member of Israeli forces to be charged with killing a Palestinian in 2016 –when at least 109 Palestinians were shot and killed by Israeli forces and settlers — according to Human Rights Watch.
According to rights group Yesh Din, of the 186 criminal investigations opened by the Israeli army into suspected offenses against Palestinians in 2015, just four yielded indictments.
Judges called for leniency due to the fact that it was Azarya’s first time in a “terror situation,” and also noted the alleged mismanagement of the scene by Israeli commanders at the scene, who later went on to give harsh testimonies against the 20-year-old soldier.
(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)