UN rights office decries Israeli sentence as excessively lenient
UN Human Rights Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani compares Elor Azaria's 18-month sentence for killing 'a wounded Palestinian' with three-year sentences given to Palestinian children for throwing stones; she declares that the case reinforces a 'culture of impunity.'
GENEVA — The United Nations' human rights office said on Friday that the 18-month sentence handed down to Israeli soldier Elor Azaria for killing 'a wounded Palestinian' was "excessively lenient" and "unacceptable".
Azaria, who shot Abdel Fattah al-Sharif in the head after he was incapacitated following a knife attack he instigated in March 2016, was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment on Tuesday. The show of leniency drew Palestinian outrage.
"It also stands in contrast to the sentences handed down by other Israeli courts for other less serious offences, notably the sentencing of Palestinian children to more than three years' imprisonment for throwing stones at cars. This case risks undermining confidence in the justice system and reinforcing the culture of impunity."
Manslaughter carries a maximum punishment of 20 years under Israeli law, she said.
"This case risks undermining confidence in the justice system and reinforcing the culture of impunity," Shamdasani said. "This is a chronic culture of impunity we are talking about."
More than 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces since the most recent upsurge in violence began in the West Bank in September 2015, she said.
Azaria is the only member of the Israeli security forces to have been brought to trial for such a killing, she added.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is due to address the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday at the start of its main annual session that lasts until March 24