Courts in Israel have convicted a soldier of killing a Palestinian man. The man was part of a Palestinian duo who had attacked and stabbed an Israeli soldier. One of the two Palestinian men was shot dead and killed, while the other lay on the ground bleeding.
A Human Rights Worker from Btselem, an Israeli human right’s organisation, made video footage from some distance away. Hidden from sight, the worker recorded a video showing the aftermath of the stabbing. Ambulances, medics and soldiers can be seen in the background, while the two men lay on the floor. While a wounded soldier is carried away on a stretcher, an Israeli soldier, Sgt Elor Azaria, 20, seems to talk to his colleagues, lifts his gun and shoots the wounded Palestinian man, Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, 21, in the head in the head, instantly killing him.
Sgt Elor Azaria, 20, shot Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, 21, in the head while he was lying wounded and immobile on the road. One soldier on the scene told military investigators that Sgt Azaria had told him during the incident: “They stabbed my friend and tried to kill him – he deserves to die.” Judges said the statement was beyond doubt the truth, and this formed the verdict that he was guilty. Sgt Azaria told the court that he did not recall having any such conversation.
The court verdict has come as a surprise to many. Israel has had many incidents in the past, and soldiers were not prosecuted for crimes.
According to Human Rights Watch:
There was a sharp rise in killings and injuries related to Israeli-Palestinian hostilities beginning in October. Overall, Palestinians killed at least 17 Israeli civilians and 3 Israeli soldiers, and injured 87 Israeli civilians and 80 security officers in the West Bank and Israel as of November 27. Israeli security forces killed at least 120 and injured at least 11,953 Palestinian civilians in West Bank, Gaza, and Israel as of the same date, including bystanders, protesters, and suspected assailants. source
Hardline Israelis objected to the verdict, with many protesting. The nation itself is divided with Israelis on both sides being highly vocal. In conclusion, it can be seen that greater accountability can only bring a small, but positive step to reconcilliation between the Palestinians and Israelis.