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Family of Palestinian assailant: Azaria deserved at least 10 years – Arab-Israeli Conflict

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Mourners carry the body of Palestinian assailant Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, who was shot and killed after being wounded last March by an Israeli soldier, during his funeral in Hebron on May 28.
(photo credit:REUTERS)

The family of Abdel Fatah Sharif, the Palestinian assailant who was shot dead by an Israeli soldier while lying immobilized on the ground, expressed its disappointment on Tuesday with an Israeli military court’s sentencing of the soldier, Elor Azaria, to 18 months in prison.

“We do not believe that the sentencing was fair and just. We are talking about a soldier who murdered another person and all he gets is one and half years. At the least, we believe that the soldier deserved ten years,” Fathi Sharif, Abdel Fatah’s uncle and the Sharif family spokesman, told The Jerusalem Post. “Israel imprisons Palestinians for throwing rocks for longer periods of time. There’s no other way to describe the trial than as a show trial .”

Abdel Fatah and Ramzi Kasrawi, another Palestinian assailant, attacked a group of Israeli soldiers near the Tel Rumeida checkpoint in Hebron in late March 2016.

The soldiers immediately responded with fire, subduing Sharif and killing Kasrawi.

Approximately 10 minutes later, Azaria arrived at the scene and shot dead Abdel Fatah, who was lying motionless on the ground.

During his trial, Azaria said that he shot Sharif because he thought he posed an imminent threat. However, the military court rejected Azaria’s claim in January, convicting him of manslaughter.

On Tuesday, the military court sentenced Azaria to 18 months in prison and demoted him from sergeant to private.

Fathi said that his family has no intentions of following up with the case in other courts including the International Criminal Court.

“The Palestinian leadership and the PLO can decide on its own what to do about following up with this case, but us, as a family, don’t believe that anything will come out a trial at the ICC or other courts,” Fathi said. “Do you really think Israel is going to implement a ruling of the ICC? I think all the talk about the ICC is for the media. Despite our disappointment in the ruling, we consider the whole issue to be over.”

The ICC is currently carrying out a preliminary inquiry into a number of issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict not including the Hebron shooting incident.

Fathi continued that his family would prefer for leaders on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides to focus on making peace and ending Israel’s military rule instead of fighting over Azaria.

“More important than locking up Azaria is ending the conflict and achieving a real peace, where we can live in freedom without all the restrictions placed upon us by the occupation,” Fathi said. “We need to work to make sure we don’t have another situation like that of my nephew and the Israeli soldier.”

Fathi added that he hopes that both sides will realize that violence leads to nowhere.

“I am against both the soldier’s violent act in killing my nephew, who he should have arrested, and my nephew’s operation against the soldiers. These are not heroic acts and we need to emphasize that fighting each other will never lead to a real peace.”

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