Israeli soldier who executed Palestinian should get life: father
HEBRON - An Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter Wednesday for shooting a wounded Palestinian assailant lying on the ground should be sentenced to life, the Palestinian's father said.
Rights groups and the Palestinian government meanwhile argued that the conviction only came about because of a viral video showing the incident that drew global attention to the case.
The 20-year-old soldier, Sgt. Elor Azaria, faces up to 20 years in prison following the verdict.
"For me, a just verdict will be one that is similar to the verdicts our sons (in Israeli prisons) get," Yusri al-Sharif, the father of the Palestinian, told reporters in the West Bank city of Hebron, where the shooting occurred.
"Life sentence ... But Israel is trying its own son, so there is a possibility it will be lenient."
The family was joined by relatives of other alleged Palestinian attackers killed by Israeli security forces.
Some held posters showing Azaria sitting in court with "wanted" written in red and another demanding he be tried at the International Criminal Court.
Azaria had been on trial in a military court since May, with Israeli right-wing politicians defending him despite top army brass harshly condemning his actions.
He is to be sentenced at a later date.
The case burst into public view when a video of the March 24 shooting emerged and spread widely online.
The video showed Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, 21, lying on the ground, shot along with another man after stabbing and moderately wounding a soldier minutes earlier, according to the army.
Azaria then shoots him again in the head without any apparent provocation. Judges found Azaria had no reason to open fire since the Palestinian was not posing a threat.
The video was filmed by a Palestinian volunteer for Israeli rights group B'Tselem, which accused the security forces of "routine whitewashing" in a statement after the verdict.
"The fact that one soldier was convicted today does not exonerate the Israeli military law enforcement system from its routine whitewashing of cases in which security forces kill or injure Palestinians with no accountability," B'Tselem said.
"The exception of a much publicised trial, marked by a rare instance of video documentation, is not enough to change this norm."
A spokesman for the Palestinian government, Yousef al-Mahmoud, said: "The conviction of the soldier who executed al-Sharif happened because the crime was documented on video and was transmitted on TV for the whole world to see."
The shooting came against the backdrop of a wave of Palestinian knife, gun and car-ramming attacks that erupted in October 2015.
Israeli security forces have been accused of excessive force in certain other cases as well, though authorities say officers act appropriately to protect themselves and civilians.
The violence has greatly subsided in recent months.