Israeli army chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot reduced the prison sentence of former Israeli soldier Elor Azarya, convicted of manslaughter for shooting and killing a severely wounded Palestinian in the southern occupied West Bank city Hebron in 2016, Israeli media reported Wednesday.
Israeli news daily Haaretz said that, assuming Azarya gets one-third of his sentence off for good behavior, he could be released as early as March 30, 2018. If not, he would serve until September 30, 2018.
Azarya was sentenced to 18 months in prison for committing the filmed, close-range shooting of 21-year-old Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif, as the disarmed Palestinian lay immobile on the ground after allegedly committing a stabbing attack.
#Breaking: Hebron shooter Elor Azarya's sentence shortened by four months by IDF Chief of Staff Eizenkot.
— Noga Tarnopolsky (@NTarnopolsky) September 27, 2017
Azarya began serving his 18-month sentence only last month, in what was denounced by Palestinians and human rights groups as an already lenient sentence, with al-Sharif’s family noting that the soldier received less prison time than a Palestinian child would for throwing stones.
The Israeli military appeals court later rejected the appeal of his conviction as well as the severity for his sentence.
In August, Azarya’s defense team requested that Azarya’s prison sentence be postponed until Eisenkot ruled on whether to reduce Azarya’s sentence, but the request was also rejected by the military court of appeals.
Now, Eisenkot has formally ruled to commute Azarya’s sentence by four months.
Eisenkot’s decision goes against the position of the Israeli army prosecution that had wanted a three to a five-year prison sentence at trial and no reduced sentence by the Israeli army chief.
(Maan, PC, Social Media)