Israeli soldier jailed for killing wounded Palestinian freed early

Israeli soldier jailed for killing wounded Palestinian freed early
By Robert Hackwill
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Soldier Elor Azaria escaped the maximum sentence of 20 years for manslaughter when he was sentenced to 18 months in prison last year. He has served less than nine.


He is a hero in his hometown, but Franco-Israeli soldier Elor Azaria made frontpage news in 2015 when he killed an already-wounded and incapacitated Palestinian, who had just attacked a fellow soldier with a knife. Jailed for his crime, he is now a free man.

"After 26 months of suffering, of an unbelievable nightmare that I don't wish on anyone, not even on those I hate, today we have a joy within a joy," said the young man's father, Charlie. His mother Oshra was also delighted.

"My light returns home, my light returns home. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one."

Elor's trial was one of the most divisive in Israeli history, and at the end the Palestinians do not feel justice has been done.

"They arrested him and in the end he is released from prison today as a hero. This strengthens the culture of killing and bloodshed, it is a motivation to the extremist parties to have a country that protects the killers," said the chairman of the Palestinian Prisoner Club, Qadura Fares.

Elor's act split Israeli public opinion. Some said his killing of the Palestinian was justified as he could still have posed a threat, while others said it was the latest sign of failing discipline in the Israeli army, which trumpets its "ethical" rules of engagement. The killing, carried out in full view of cameras, enraged the Arab world.

Elor was sentenced to 18 months in jail after a court found him guilty of manslaughter, an offense that carries a maximum of 20 years in jail, but he has only served less than nine months, being released early to attend a brother's wedding.

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