Conviction upheld for Israeli soldier in killing of Palestinian

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

"My opinion has not changed when it comes to granting pardon to Elor Azaria and remains consistent to what I said after the verdict", Netanyahu said on Twitter.

An IDF Appeals Court today, Sunday afternoon, 7 Av, is expected to announce its verdict in the appeal filed on behalf of former IDF soldier Sgt. Elor Azariya. The high-profile manslaughter case sharply divided the country.

Hours after the military court's decision to reject Elor Azaria's appeal, IDF Chief of General Staff Gadi Eizenkot claimed that a request for an easier sentence would be seriously considered.

But a cell phone video showed Azaria fatally shooting Palestinian Abdel Fattah al-Sahrif, 21, in the head as he lay wounded on the ground and unarmed.

One of the assailants was shot dead by troops. Minutes earlier al-Sharif had stabbed an Israeli soldier with a knife in the turbulent West Bank city of Hebron. "IDF soldiers have absorbed with their bodies the terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens and deserve support". The military acted swiftly to investigate the incident. Moshe Yaalon, defense minister at the time of the shooting, said Azaria's actions were a violation of Israeli army ethics. This incident will be dealt with in the most serious way. "The IDF will not be a militia and we will not give legitimacy to soldiers out to take revenge with a gang ethos".

Dr. Jawad al-Awad, Palestinian Minister of Health, responded by calling the shooting a "war crime" and urged the global community to protect Palestinians.

The family said it "opposes all forms of violence, by Palestinians and Israelis alike", Channel 2 television reported. Azaria said he incorrectly believed Sharif was wearing an explosive vest.

"As a father of a soldier and the prime minister, I want to say again that the IDF backs up its soldiers", he said.

A panel of five judges rejected both appeals, upholding the manslaughter conviction and the ruling of 18 months in prison.

The judges rejected the defense's arguments and new information in its request to overturn the conviction, saying in the ruling that Azaria's "manner was more suitable for a shooting range than the scene of a terror attack".

"I ask the Azaria family not to continue the appeals process and to stay on the military path and bring this affair to an end as soon as possible.It is time to seek a pardon request from the Chief of Staff and I have no doubt that he will take into account the hard circumstances".

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