Hebron shooter begins jail term after being denied request to delay
Dan Balilty (POOL/AFP/Archives)
An Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier convicted of killing an immobile Palestinian attacker, began his jail term on Wednesday.
Azaria will serve his sentence in Zrifin military jail, located in central Israel. Azaria was denied a request to postpone the start of his prison sentence just 24 hours before it is was due to begin.
The soldier was convicted of manslaughter in February 2017 after he was caught on film in March 2016 shooting Palestinian terrorist Abdel Fattah al-Sharif as he lay prone and immobilized on the ground after carrying out a stabbing attack against Israeli soldiers in the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron. The incident was captured on film and the images beamed around the world, sparking public debate in Israel about the morality of the shooting.
Azaria's lawyers appealed the conviction in March but faced backlash from the prosecution, which made a separate appeal asking for a harsher sentence. All appeals were rejected, however, and the soldier's 18-month prison sentence was left intact.
Various Israeli politicians have publicly stated that they believe Azaria should be pardoned, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Last Wednesday, Azaria's attorneys opposed an appeal to the Supreme Court in order to request a commutation from the chief of staff, Israeli daily Haaretz reported. In the letter, Azaria apparently expressed remorse for shooting dead the wounded Palestinian assailant, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif.
Yet on Thursday, Azaria made a 360-degree turn and published a video saying he would enter prison with his head held high. And on Friday, Azaria's main attorney, Yoram Sheftel, told Channel 10 that the chief of staff was considering the initial request.
Over the past few days, Azaria and his defense attorneys have changed their course of action several times as they consider the odds of the chief of staff commuting the sentence.
Responding Azaria's request, the military prosecution wrote that the defense position lacked precedent. The prosecutors added that postponing a sentence would be an exceptional move.
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