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JOINT PRESS RELEASE: PHROC Condemns the Excessively Lenient Sentence for Israeli Soldier Responsible for Palestinian Death

28-02-2017 12:04

The  Palestinian  Human  Rights  Organizations  Council  (PHROC)  strongly  condemns  the  18-month sentence  handed  to  Israeli  soldier  Elor  Azaria,  who  was  filmed  shooting  and  killing  21-year  old Palestinian Abdelfattah Al-Sharif while he was wounded and incapacitated. In January 2017, the soldier was convicted of manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

 

The video recording, dated 24 March 2016, showed Abdelfattah laying motionless on the ground, unarmed and  injured after having been shot by Israeli soldiers in Tel Rumeida, Hebron. The video recording then shows Azaria walking toward Abdelfattah, who posed no imminent danger or threat at the time, and shoot him in the head. The act amounts to an extrajudicial killing.

 

The  recorded  killing  caused  an  international  outcry  and  Azaria  was  subsequently  charged  with manslaughter, a merciful charge given the intentional nature of Azaria's act. The trial marked the first case  of  a  soldier  being  charged  for  killing  a  Palestinian  since  October  2015,  despite  over  200

Palestinians having been killed by Israeli forces since then. Indeed, had there not been clear video evidence of Azaria  fatally shooting Abdelfattah coupled with international condemnation, it is likely that no investigation or trial would have taken place, as is the case in the majority of incidents against Palestinians.

 

On 21 February 2017, Elor Azaria was sentenced to one year and a half in prison. A United Nations human rights  spokesperson, Ravina Shamdasani expressed outrage at the sentence, stating "We are deeply disturbed at the lenient  sentence given by the Tel Aviv Military Court earlier this week to an Israeli  soldier  convicted  of  unlawfully  killing  a  wounded  Palestinian  in  an  apparent  extrajudicial execution of an unarmed man who clearly posed no imminent  threat... This case risks undermining confidence in the justice system and reinforcing the culture of impunity...This is a  chronic culture of impunity we are talking about."[1]

 

Palestinians receive  significantly  higher  prison  sentences  for  similar  charges.  For  example,  on  28 January 2016, five  Palestinian youth from Hares  -- Ali Shamlawi, Ammar Souf, Mohammed Kleib, Mohammed Suleiman,  and Tamer Souf --  each received a 15 year prison sentence for manslaughter.

 

Similarly, Abed Dwayat, was sentenced to 18 years in Israeli prison for manslaughter after he allegedly threw a stone at an Israeli vehicle that caused the death of the driver.[2]

 

Palestinians also receive significantly higher prison sentences for lesser charges, such as attempted murder and stone throwing.  In November 2016, 14-year-old Ahmad Manasrah was sentenced to 12 years in prison for attempted murder. In late 2015, Israeli lawmakers approved an amendment to the civil code raising the minimum sentence for rock throwing to three years[3]  -- one year longer than the sentence Azaria received for the killing of a Palestinian.

 

PHROC condemns the excessively lenient sentencing of Azaria which highlights a culture of impunity and demonstrates that Israeli authorities are unwilling to hold soldiers accountable in cases that result in Palestinian deaths. Israel must be held to account by third states and international institutions for extrajudicial killings and other war crimes against Palestinians.

 

-End-

 

 

[1] "UN:          Jail     term     for      Israeli     soldier      'excessively     lenient',"     Al-Jazeera,     24      February      2017.      Available      at http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/02/jail-term-israeli-soldier-excessively-lenient-170224133219648.html

 

[2] Illegal  Israeli  Measures  Target  Palestinian Youth  and  their  Families  in  Occupied  East  Jerusalem,  19  January  2017,  available  at http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/topics/wall-and-jerusalem/1095-illegal-israeli-measures-target-palestinian-youth-and-their-families-in- occupied-east-jerusalem; Israeli court sentences Palestinian youth to 18 years in prison for deadly stone throwing, Ma'an News Agency,

24 January 2017. Available at  https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=775087

 

[3] Knesset    approves    minimum    jail    time    for    rock    throwing,    Times    of    Israel,    2    November    2015.     Available    at http://www.timesofisrael.com/knesset-approves-minimum-jail-time-for-rock-throwing/

Tags / #accoutability #PHROC #NoMoreImpunity