Azaria lawyer requests delay in prison sentence

Sgt. Elor Azaria on his way to military court on Sunday July 30 from his home in Ramle where he has been under house arrest since his release from the army two weeks ago

He later appealed the verdict, while military prosecutors asked for an increased sentence after having initially requested between three and five years.

The prosecution's appeal for a harsher sentence was also rejected.

An Israeli military court on Sunday rejected the appeal of Elor Azaria the Hevron soldier who was jailed for 18 months for killing a wounded terrorist who stabbed and severely wounded an IDF soldier. Azaria's mother yelled out, "But he was a terrorist", referring to al-Sharif, and was scolded by the judge.

The family of the Palestinian assailant, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, were surprised by the verdict, saying in a statement: "We were certain Elor Azaria would be exonerated" by the appellate court, Channel 2 news reported.

Azaria's lawyers now have the option of taking the case to the supreme court, but defence minister Avigdor Lieberman requested for the family not to push for another appeal, but instead to ask the army chief of staff to pardon the former soldier.

"My opinion has not changed on the question of granting a pardon to Elor Azaria, as I expressed it after the [January] conviction".

Azaria was released from military prison to house arrest, as his period of mandatory army service came to an end and he awaited a decision from the military court of appeals.

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After a trial that created bitter divisions in Israel, Sgt Elor Azaria was found guilty in January of manslaughter over the March 2016 shooting of Abdul Fatah al-Sharif (21) in the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron.

He is eligible for pardon by either EiZenkot or President Reuven Rivlin.

"The court's message is no less important [than the sentence itself]", said Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Galon. "Yet Azaria's argument - that the Israeli military routinely fails to prosecute similar cases of unlawful use of lethal force - should be a warning call to Israeli officials, some of whom continue to publicly advocate a shoot to kill policy".

But the military's leadership, backed by Azaria's critics, condemned the shooting.

He said he feared Sharif was wearing an explosive belt and could blow himself up, a claim judges rejected.

Culture Minister Miri Regev also called for a pardon, and said the move would be a fundamental expression of support for an outstanding solder.

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