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Israeli Military Court To Decide Fate Of Soldier Convicted Of Manslaughter

An Israeli military tribunal will hand down a final ruling in the case of Elor Azaria, the IDF soldier imprisoned for shooting dead a wounded Palestinian assailant in March 2016. Earlier this year, Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 18 months behind bars for killing the Palestinian, who minutes earlier attacked two soldiers in the West Bank city of Hebron. Azaria’s attorneys appealed the conviction in March, contending that key evidence was omitted from the trial; whereas the prosecution filed its own appeal, arguing that the soldier’s sentence did not match the severity of his crime. The case has exposed deep divisions within Israeli society, with some seeing Azaria as a hero and others as a criminal. While not the first time an IDF soldier has been convicted of murder, most cases are settled through plea bargains in order to avoid the public display of a trial. In Israel, where every 18-year-old is conscripted into the army, there exists an “unwritten rule” in which service members are viewed as performing a sacrosanct duty and are therefore generally given the benefit of the doubt and shielded from legal charges. Azaria was released to house arrest this month upon his official discharge from the army.