An Israeli soldier who killed a wounded Palestinian attacker in a high-profile case that split opinion across the country has been jailed for 18 months.
Elor Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter for shooting dead 21-year-old Abdul Fatah al-Sharif in Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, last March.
Azaria had told a colleague that Sharif, who had stabbed another soldier, “deserved to die”.
Military chiefs condemned his actions, but others praised them. The case fuelled debate in Israel over when and how soldiers are entitled to use lethal force against attackers.
The shooting occurred amid a wave of attacks by Palestinians that had killed 29 Israelis over the preceding five months.
The offence carries a sentence of up to 20 years, though prosecutors had called for Azaria to be jailed for between three and five years. Jail term anger – by the BBC’s Jonny Dymond at the court Outside the court, chanting and singing from protesters didn’t falter as the verdict was read out.
The small but noisy crowd had come to demand Elor Azaria’s immediate release and condemn his trial, not to argue over the length of his sentence.
Nationalist politicians criticised the sentence. Education Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home party in the governing coalition, called for an immediate pardon.
“Elor must not go to jail,” he said, “or we will all pay the price.”
Yusri al-Sharif, the father of the attacker killed by Azaria, said the sentence was a “joke” and the Israeli authorities were “laughing in our face”.
He had called for a life sentence. This is not the end of the case. Azaria’s defence team have said they will appeal against the verdict of manslaughter and there is the possibility of getting the sentence reduced.