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Israel soldier convicted of killing Palestinian asks for presidential pardon

The Israeli soldier, Elor Azaria, was convicted of manslaughter, and jailed for 18 months, for the March 2016 killing of Abdel al-Fattah al-Sharif in the occupied West Bank

An Israeli soldier convicted of the March 2016 killing of a Palestinian in Hebron appealed to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin for a pardon yesterday.

Elor Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter after shooting 21-year-old Palestinian Abdel Al-Fattah Al-Sharif as he lay wounded on the ground.

“I unfortunately did not receive a just trial,” Azaria wrote in his request. “This is how I feel, and nothing can change it. In any case, I ask for a measure of justice and mercy, the essence of the presidential pardon, from His Honour the President in this request.”

Last month, the Israeli army chief cut Azaria’s sentence from 18 to 14 months. If Azaria gets one third of his sentence off for good behaviour, he could be released as early as 30 March 2018.

Read: What Elor Azaria Taught Us about Israel 

“I read and hear the reactions to my decision not to express remorse for shooting the terrorist,” Azaria wrote to Rivlin. “That is inaccurate: Had I known for certain, in those tense seconds on the scene, that the terrorist was not carrying a bomb – I wouldn’t have shot, clear and simple.”

“Therefore, and only in hindsight, shooting the terrorist was an operational mistake,” he added.

Azaria wrote: “I accepted the judgment. I’m sitting in prison, far from my family, isolated from the world. Believe me, I am sitting and thinking of the circumstances: An Israeli soldier whose freedom was taken from him because he acted against the evildoers who came to shed Jewish blood.”

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