ISRAELI MILITARY COURT POSTPONES ELOR AZARYA’S PRISON SENTENCE

azarya-elor

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — An Israeli military court on Thursday granted the request of Israeli soldier Elor Azarya — who was convicted last month of manslaughter for the filmed, execution-style shooting of 21-year-old Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif –to postpone the beginning of his 18-month sentence until a ruling is made on his appeal, according to Israeli news website Ynet.According to Ynet, Azarya was set to start his prison sentence on Sunday March 5, but with Thursday’s decision, he will remain under “open detention” at his unit’s base, similar to the months he has already spent on open detention.Ynet quoted the judge as saying during the hearing that Azarya “has proven he poses no danger to the public and that there’s no fear he would try to escape justice.”Though the prosecution initially objected to Azarya’s request, saying “the defendant was convicted of manslaughter, carried out an intentional killing, was motivated by the desire for revenge, broke army orders, violated the army’s values,” it eventually dropped its objection.Azarya’s lawyer Yoram Sheftel claimed that “nine out of ten soldiers” want Azarya to be released, and went on to note the “massive gap” between the guilty verdict and what “millions of Jews in the state of Israel think.”Ynet added that the court ordered Azarya’s lawyer to file the full appeal on Sunday, and that a date for the appeal hearing “will be set as soon as possible.”Azarya is the only member of Israeli forces to be charged with killing a Palestinian in 2016 —when at least 109 Palestinians were shot and killed by Israeli forces and settlers — according to Human Rights Watch.

According to rights group Yesh Din, of the 186 criminal investigations opened by the Israeli army into suspected offenses against Palestinians in 2015, just four yielded indictments.Judges called for leniency due to the fact that it was Azarya’s first time in a “terror situation,” and also noted the alleged mismanagement of the scene by Israeli commanders at the scene, who later went on to give harsh testimonies against the 20-year-old soldier.After al-Sharif and Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, also 21, allegedly carried out a stabbing attack on another soldier in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron last March, al-Qasrawi was fatally shot, while al-Sharif was shot and left severely wounded on the ground for several minutes before Azarya stepped forward and shot him in the head, with a number of witnesses quoting him as saying “This dog is still alive” and “This terrorist deserves to die” before pulling the trigger.
Members of al-Sharif’s family and Palestinian leadership have called the case a “show trial” for handing down a lenient manslaughter conviction for the soldier, while focusing on the case to distract from a wider culture of impunity for Israeli forces.
Following the announcement of the 18-month sentence, the family said they were “not surprised.”
Israeli daily Haaretz quoted them as saying: “from the onset we knew this was a show trial that will not do us justice. Even though the soldier was caught on video and it is clear that this is a cold blooded execution, he was convicted only of manslaughter, not murder, and the prosecution asked for only a light sentence of three years. The sentence he received is less than a Palestinian child gets for throwing stones.”
Meanwhile, a report released by Human Rights Watch days before Azarya was convicted documented “numerous statements” made by senior Israeli politicians and religious figures “calling on police and soldiers to shoot to kill suspected attackers, irrespective of whether lethal force is actually strictly necessary to protect life.”
HRW noted that Israel’s shoot-to-kill policy has received widespread support among Israeli citizens, citing a 2016 poll by the Israel Democracy Institute which found that 47 percent of Jewish Israelis supported the sentiment that “any Palestinian who carries out a terror attack against Jews should be killed on the spot, even if he has been captured and clearly does not pose a threat.”
 
(Source / 03.03.2017)

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Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police




The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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