The family of Abdel Fatah al-Sharif, the Palestinian assailant who was shot dead by Sgt. Elor Azaria while lying immobilized on the ground, expressed its disappointment on Tuesday with the IDF court’s sentence of 18 months in prison.
“We do not believe that the sentencing was fair and just. We are talking about a soldier who murdered another person and all he gets is a year-and-a-half. At the least, we believe that the soldier deserved 10 years,” Fathi Sharif, Abdel Fatah’s uncle and the Sharif family spokesman, told The Jerusalem Post. “Israel imprisons Palestinians for throwing rocks for longer periods of time. There’s no other way to describe the trial than as a show trial.”Abdel Fatah and Ramzi Kasrawi, another Palestinian assailant, attacked a group of 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, Azaria arrived at the scene and shot Abdel Fatah, who was lying motionless on the ground.During his trial, Azaria claimed he shot him because he thought he posed an imminent threat. However, the military court rejected Azaria’s claim in January, convicting him of manslaughter.On Tuesday, the military court sentenced Azaria to 18 months in prison and demoted him from sergeant to private.Fathi said that his family does not believe there is a point in pursuing further legal action, but will leave it up to the Palestinian leadership to decide if wants to do so.“The Palestinian leadership and the PLO can decide on its own what to do about following up with this case, but we, as a family, don’t believe that anything will come out of a trial at the International Criminal Court or other courts,” Fathi said. “Do you really think Israel is going to implement a ruling of the ICC? I think all the talk about the ICC is for the media. Despite our disappointment in the ruling, we consider the whole issue to be over.”The ICC is carrying out a preliminary inquiry into a number of issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not including the Hebron shooting incident.Fathi said his family would prefer for leaders on both sides to focus on making peace and ending Israel’s military rule instead of fighting over Azaria.“More important than locking up Azaria is ending the conflict and achieving a real peace, where we can live in freedom without all the restrictions placed upon us by the occupation,” Fathi said.“We need to work to make sure we don’t have another situation like that of my nephew and the Israeli soldier.”Fathi added that he hopes both sides will realize that violence leads nowhere.“I am against both the soldier’s violent act in killing my nephew, who should have been arrested, and my nephew’s operation against the soldiers. These are not heroic acts and we need to emphasize that fighting each other will never lead to a real peace,” he said.
Tensions running high shortly before verdict in Hebron shooting case given to Elor Azaria (credit: REUTERS)