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Palestinian government condemns early release of Elor Azaria

May 9, 2018 2:27 P.M. (Updated: May 12, 2018 1:42 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian government has condemned the release of Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier who killed an incapacitated Palestinian in Hebron last year.

In March 2016, Azaria was caught on video footage killing an incapacitated 21-year-old Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif, who was lying on the ground. Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter, and sentenced to 18 months in prison, but received a four-month reduction of his sentence from Israeli army chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot.

Azaria’s sentence was also reduced two days, so he could attend his brother’s wedding. Photos published by Haaretz show Azaria at his home in Ramle being greeted by signs saying “Welcome home, Elor the hero”, and “It’s so good to have you home, the soldier of us all”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “glad it’s done with” before departing on a trip to Cyrpus.

The Palestinian government on Wednesday condemned his release, saying "the release of the killer of Abd Fattah al-Sharif in Hebron after spending only nine months in prison will encourage the cold-blooded murder of Palestinians.”

“At a time the occupation authorities have concealed all crimes and extrajudicial execution of innocent Palestinians, including women and children, by occupation soldiers and who were never brought to trial, the sentence and early release (of the solider) is a green light to the occupation forces to continue with their crimes against our unarmed people.”

Shortly after the sentencing of Azaria, al-Sharif’s family noted that the soldier had received a more lenient sentence than a Palestinian child would receive for throwing stones.

Head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, Qaddoura Faris issued a similar statement, illustrating that Azaria’s lax sentencing could embolden Israeli army soldiers in the future.

“The release proves once again that all the occupation state institutions are accomplices in this case, starting with the president of the state, through all its institutions and ending with the Israeli military judiciary.”

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