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Sgt Elor Azaria convicted of the crime of occupation

Sgt Elor Azaria convicted of the crime of occupation”

Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, who was caught on video shooting a wounded Palestinian assailant in the head as he lay on the ground, sits during a hearing at a military appeals court in Tel Aviv during which he was charged with manslaughter.

Azaria, who has widespread support from right-leaning members of Israeli society, will be sentenced next Sunday, Israel's military said, with a custodial sentence likely. Now Prime Minister Netanyahu has called for President Rivlin to pardon Azaria.

"It was to be expected that Israel's greatest ally would act in accordance with the values that we share and that they would have vetoed this disgraceful resolution", said Danny Danon, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, after the vote last month.

His lawyers argued the soldier may have thought the Palestinian was wearing explosives, but others said he had already been checked for a suicide belt and no one in the video appears to be acting cautiously.

Hours after an Israeli army medic was convicted on Wednesday of manslaughter, for executing a wounded Palestinian suspect previous year in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, called for the soldier to be pardoned. According to the report, 34 of the Palestinians killed, or 30.6 percent, were from the Hebron district where Azaria shot Sharif dead in March. Azaria then lifts his rifle and shots the assailant once in the head.

Ultimately, Judge Maya Heller called the shooting of Palestinian Abdul Fattah al-Sharif needless. "We found there was no room to accept his arguments". "He deserves to die", Azaria was quoted in the verdict as telling another soldier after pulling the trigger.

Azaria faces a maximum penalty of 20 years behind bars, though he is not expected to receive that much time.

Republican leaders in America like Paul Ryan have joined with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in condemning the Obama Administration for allowing the UN Security Council resolution to pass.

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Azaria's demeanour drastically changed as the judge read the verdict.

"The verdict is a small step in the right direction and offers a glimmer of hope that soldiers who commit unlawful killings may no longer go unpunished", said Philip Luther, research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

The incident occurred during a tensed time between Israelis and Palestinians, amidst a spate of violence in the West Bank and Israel.

"Withdrawing from the West Bank should be addressed with the government, not the military", he said.

Sharon Gal, a spokesperson for the Azaria family, accused the court of "picking up the knife [used to attack an IDF soldier] from the ground and stabbed it in the back of all the soldiers".

Lt. Col. Nadav Weissman, a military prosecutor, said this was "not a happy day".

In addition to calls for clemency from politicians, demonstrations of support for Azaria came from hundreds of protesters who scuffled with the police outside the courtroom, waving nationalist banners and at least one Trump sign, and a group of his fellow army medics who dripped their own blood onto a placard claiming that the military's justice system was "killing us from within". "But the deed was done, and the offense was severe".



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