Wednesday, February 22, 2017

No justice in Israel

On 24 March 2016, Elor Azaria, an Israeli soldier, executed Abdul Fatah al-Sharif. Al-Sharif had been shot and incapacitated after stabbing another soldier and was lying wounded on the ground. He posed no threat. Despite this, Azaria shot him in the head and killed him, in a clear violation of the laws of war. Eventually, Azaria was charged - with manslaughter rather than murder - and convicted. Last night he received his sentence: a laughable 18 months in prison:

An Israeli military medic who was filmed killing an incapacitated Palestinian attacker last year has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Elor Azaria’s sentence was handed down by a panel of three judges sitting in a military court in Tel Aviv. Prosecutors had demanded a sentence of between three and five years, while Azaria had asked the court to be “merciful” and sentence him to open detention.

Human rights groups argued that the sentence was too lenient, while Azaria’s supporters, including some ministers, said he should not have been sentenced to prison at all.

I'm very definitely with the former. 18 months for a cold-blooded murder by a soldier? Its very clear that there is no justice in Israel, at least where Palestinians are the victims. Its another example of how Israel has turned into an apartheid state, where some lives are valued more than others (see also: US military sentences for murders and torture in Iraq, where they exist at all).

But it gets worse, because there is intense political pressure to pardon this killer. And if that happens, it sends a clear message: Palestinian lives don't matter, and soldiers can murder with (even more) impunity. It will also make it clear that Israeli soldiers will need to be prosecuted for their crimes before international tribunals, because the Israeli state won't hold its own to account.