General reduces sentence for Israeli soldier convicted of killing Palestinian

Sept. 27 (UPI) — The Israel Defense Forces’ chief of staff cut four months off the prison sentence for Elor Azaria, an Israeli soldier convicted of fatally shooting a subdued and immobilized Palestinian attacker last year.

The directive from Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot cited Azaria’s combat service, the Jerusalem Post reported in reducing his sentence from 18 months to 14. But Eisenkot said his decision should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the killing, for which Azaria has not expressed remorse.

“Your conduct was improper and violated the army’s rules values,” Eisenkot wrote in his order. The chief of staff declined to grant Azaria a full pardon three weeks ago.

A military court convicted Azaria of shooting and killing 21-year-old Palestinian Abdul Fatah al-Sharif in March 2016. After Israeli troops injured Sharif and another Palestinian who stabbed an Israeli soldier, Azaria was caught on video shooting him in the head.

Prosecutors said Sharif “represented no immediate threat,” but Azaria said there was reason to believe the Palestinian was wearing an explosive suicide belt.

Authorities could release Azaria as soon as March, but may keep him in prison through the end of next September, Haaretz reported.

In addition to his prison sentence, Azaria was demoted from from the rank of sergeant to private and will face a year of probation after his release.

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