Trial of IDF Sgt. Elor Azaria, July 6, 2016.
(photo credit: YONAH JEREMY BOB)
The IDF soldier who shot dead a wounded Palestinian assailant should have been convicted of murder, a member of the assailant’s family said on Wednesday, reacting to a military court’s ruling that convicted the soldier of manslaughter.
“We don’t feel like justice was served today. The Israeli soldier should have been convicted of murder, not manslaughter,” Fathi Sharif, an uncle of Abdel Fatah Sharif, the Palestinian assailant, told The Jerusalem Post.
“There is clear evidence that he carried out a revenge attack. Why did the prosecution only charge him with manslaughter, not murder?” Abdel Fatah Sharif and Ramzi Kasrawi, another Palestinian assailant, attacked a group of Israeli soldiers near the Tel Rumeida checkpoint in Hebron in late March 2016.
The soldiers immediately responded with fire, subduing Sharif and killing Kasrawi.
Approximately 10 minutes later, IDF Sgt. Elor Azaria arrived at the scene and shot dead Sharif, who was lying motionless on the ground, according to most accounts.
During the military trial over the past nine months, Azaria said that he shot Sharif because he thought he posed an imminent threat. However, the court rejected Azaria’s claim on Wednesday.
In its ruling the court said: “It was proven to us beyond all reasonable doubt that a causal relationship exists between the shooting carried out by the defendant and the death of the terrorist al-Sharif,” leading it to convict Azaria of manslaughter.
Fathi Sharif added that he thinks the court did its work well amidst immense public pressure.
“The court came under great pressure, but it followed through with its proceedings appropriately, dismissing the defense’s claims,” he stated, adding that for the time being, the Sharif family is waiting for Azaria’s sentencing.
“We need to see what the court decides for its final ruling. Despite the unjust ruling today, we still have hope that the final sentencing can bring us more of a sense of justice,” the elder Sharif remarked.
“The Sharif family does not have a position on the issue of bringing the case to the ICC – that is for the Palestinian leadership to decide.”
The military court is expected to sentence Azaria in a month. The maximum punishment for manslaughter is 20 years in prison.
Sharif’s uncle also said that the family is prepared to forgive Azaria if Israel ends its military rule over the Palestinian territories.
“If Israel commits to ending the occupation and spilling of blood, we, the Sharif family, are prepared to forgive Azaria,” he said. “At the end of the day, we are all humans, Israelis and Palestinians. We want to live in peace without losing our family members.”