Published: 2017-08-09 16:02
Last Updated: 2017-08-09 16:02
The Israeli occupation soldier, convicted of the execution-style killing of an incapacitated Palestinian, has begun serving his prison term.
Elor Azaria arrived at the military prison inside the Tzrifin base in central Israel on Wednesday to serve out his 18-month sentence.
Azaria was accompanied by dozens of supporters who have rallied behind him since the 2016 shooting in the West Bank.
While the Israeli military court supported the prosecution’s argument that the killing of 21-year-old Abd al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron was unjustified in its decision to convict Azarya, the soldier has garnered mass support from Israel’s far-right citizens and government, who have hailed him a hero.
Al-Sharif and Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, also 21, allegedly carried out a stabbing attack on another soldier in March 2016. Al-Qasrawi was fatally shot, while al-Sharif was shot and left severely wounded on the ground for several minutes before Azarya stepped forward and shot him in the head, with a number of witnesses quoting him as saying "This dog is still alive" and "This terrorist deserves to die" before pulling the trigger.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry has criticised what they belive to be a lenient sentence, saying that since a video of the killing went viral, “The Israeli government and its political, judicial, and military arms have been trying to attract international reactions to this hideous crime through the farce of detaining and trying the killer soldier."
"Except for some voices who have tried to defend the alleged Israeli army's code of ethics, the majority of Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and several of his ministers, have embarked upon defending the murderer Azarya."
A report released earlier this year by Human Rights Watch documented documented “numerous statements” made by senior Israeli politicians and religious figures “calling on police and soldiers to shoot to kill suspected attackers, irrespective of whether lethal force is actually strictly necessary to protect life.”