Early release for Israel soldier who killed wounded Palestinian

Elor Azaria Released from Jail

An Israeli soldier who shot a wounded Palestinian dead in 2016 has been released from jail after nine months.

However, he was only sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Azaria released a family photo using his personal page on Facebook under the caption "My family is reunited, there can be no greater joy".

Qaraqe' accused Israel of "deliberately undermining the lives of Palestinians and the rights of the Palestinian people and publicly covering for the criminals in its forces who are accused of war crimes".

Azaria was greeted at his home southeast of Tel Aviv with Israeli flags and signs saying, "It's so good to have you home, the soldier of us all", and "Welcome home, Elor the hero", Ha'aretz reported.

Al-Sharif had been shot by members of Azaria's command after attempting to stab two IDF soldiers and was lying wounded on the ground when Azaria shot him in the head.

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Azaria has never shown any remorse for the deliberate killing. Azaria arrived at the scene approximately 11 minutes after the purported assault, cocked his rifle and shot Sharif in the head, killing him.

Part of the story regarding Azaria's sentence has been that he was already given leniency by the original IDF Court that sentenced him, which said that his strong and clean prior record and the stress of the operational situation had led to a lighter sentence.

The trial captivated Israel and highlighted deep divisions in public opinion between those who denounced the shooting and others who said it was justified.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, commenting on Azaria's release as he departed on a lightning visit to Cyprus, said he was glad the ordeal was over. They also pointed out that the soldier's sentence "is less than [what] a Palestinian child gets for throwing stones".

According to the Times of Israel, Azaria was granted release by a parole board in March and he walked out of prison a free man on Monday.

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