Early release for Israel soldier who killed wounded Palestinian

Clay Curtis
May 8, 2018

The Palestinian government slammed Tuesday an early release of Israeli soldier Elor Azaria who was indicted of shooting a Palestinian man from close range in Hebron in 2016 an encourage of killing more Palestinians with cold blood.

Azaria has never shown any remorse for the deliberate killing.

But Azaria asked to be released two days earlier so that he could attend his brother's wedding on Wednesday, a request which was approved by military officials.

The army had previously said that Azaria was due to be released on May 10.

He was also demoted to the rank of private.

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However, he was only sentenced to 18 months in prison.

"How good it is that you're home, Elor, our soldier", one sign read.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, commenting on Azaria's release as he departed on a lightning visit to Cyprus, said he was glad the ordeal was over.

The minister of transportation and intelligence Israel Katz called for Azaria's criminal record to be erased. "I appeal to the [Israeli] President Reuven Rivlin, to act now to delete the criminal record... in order for him to integrate into civilian life and continue his life in a proper way".

On 24 March 2016, Azaria shot Abdel Fattah Al-Sharif in the head, as the latter lay on the ground following a reported stabbing of another solider. He began serving his sentence on August 9. A military court, however, dismissed that claim, citing the soldier's nonchalance in the moments before he killed Sharif, and his statements to fellow soldiers that the assailant deserved to die for attacking his comrades. Many Israelis, particularly on the nationalist right, defended his actions.

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