Elor Azaria: Israeli soldier's jailing delayed amid appeal

An Israeli soldier sentenced to 18 months behind bars for killing a wounded Palestinian attacker will not go to jail while he awaits the outcome of his appeal.

Elor Azaria, 20, had been due to start his prison term for manslaughter on Sunday but a court has accepted his lawyers' request to delay it.

Azaria, who was sentenced in February after a month-long trial, will be confined to base and his appeal is expected to begin within six weeks.

Appeals court judge Orly Markman said: "The imprisonment will be postponed until the result of the appeal."

The Palestinian government, the victim's family and the UN human rights office criticised the 18-month sentence as too lenient.

Azaria's manslaughter conviction could have seen him jailed for a maximum of 20 years.

He was filmed killing Abdul Fatah al-Sharif in the West Bank city of Hebron in March 2016.

The conscript medic could be seen in the footage cocking his rifle and then shooting 21-year-old Palestinian Abdul Fatah al-Sharif in the head.

Mr al-Sharif had already been shot after he attacked another Israeli soldier.

Prosecutors alleged the sergeant had shot dead Mr al-Sharif out of revenge.

However, Azaria's defence claimed he fired further shots because he believed the man still posed a threat and had a hidden bomb. There was no explosive device.

The army's top brass condemned his behaviour, insisting the military code of ethics should be upheld and pointing to the rule which states soldiers can open fire only in life-threatening situations.

However, a number of ministers, including Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, have called for Azaria to be pardoned, a process under the jurisdiction of President Reuven Rivlin.

Azaria could also have his sentence commuted to a conditional sentence by the head of the central military command.

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