JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli military prosecutors filed an appeal of the 18-month jail sentence of an Israeli soldier who shot a downed Palestinian terrorist.

Elor Azaria, 20, who was convicted of manslaughter in January in an Israeli military court, was sentenced last month by a panel of three judges at the Israel Defense Forces headquarters in Tel Aviv. Azaria was also demoted one rank, to private from sergeant.

Military prosecutors had asked for a sentence of three to five years. Also pending in the same court is an appeal of Azaria’s conviction.

In their appeal, prosecutors called the sentence “excessively lenient” in light of prior rulings by the Supreme Court and military courts, Haaretz reported. The prosecution also warned that it could cause a new, more lenient precedent.

In their sentencing decision, the judges stressed that the severity of the incident was mitigated by the fact that it took place in an active combat situation. This was a key component of the defense’s case.

Azaria, a medic in the elite Kfir Brigade, came on the scene following a Palestinian stabbing attack on soldiers in Hebron in the West Bank on March 24, 2016. One assailant was killed, and Abdel Fattah al-Sharif was injured. Minutes later, while Sharif was lying on the ground, Azaria shot him in the head in a shooting that was captured on video by a local resident for the Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem.

Azaria was arrested the same day and indicted nearly a month later. Autopsy reports showed that the shots by Azaria killed Sharif.

Prior to shooting Sharif, Azaria had cared for a stabbed soldier.

Several right-wing lawmakers have called for Azaria to be pardoned.

Azaria does not need to report to prison until his appeals are exhausted. He remains confined to the Nachshonim military base, where he has been since being arrested.

Comment