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Israeli soldier shot injured Palestinian for revenge: Prosecution

Israeli court releases identity of Elor Azaria, 19, as he is formally charged with manslaughter over death of Abdel Fattah al-Sharif in Hebron
Elor Azaria told investigators he feared his victim had a concealed bomb (AFP)

An Israeli soldier filmed shooting an injured Palestinian in the head lost suppression of his identity on Monday during his committal to trial for manslaughter.

Elor Azaria, 19, was named by a military court in Jaffa as the man charged over the shooting last month of an already incapacitated Abdel Fattah al-Sharif,  who along with an accomplice had attempted to stab members of an Israeli army patrol. 

The shooting was filmed by a B'Tselem activist and shared on the internet.

According to the prosecution indictment, Azaria opened fire in "violation of the rules of engagement, and without operational justification, while Sharif lay wounded on the ground ... and did not pose immediate and real threat to the defendant, civilians or soldiers in the area."

The prosecution believes the motive was revenge. It cites comments made by Azaria to several soldiers and an officer after the shooting, including “he deserves to die”.

Warning: this video contains graphic images.

The soldier, a resident of Ramle, told investigators that he feared Sharif had a bomb or an explosive belt.

“I used reasonable force with one shot. I shot one bullet to neutralise the threat I felt,” Azaria said. “If he’d had an explosive belt, I wouldn’t be in court, but in a cemetery. I wouldn’t have shot him if I hadn’t felt a tangible threat.”

Investigators determined Azaria, a combat medic in the Kfir Brigade, shot Sharif in the head about 10 minutes after the stabbing attack.

Sharif and his accomplice were shot several times after they stabbed a soldier at a guard post in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron.

Even before the B'Tselem video was released, the Israeli army carried out two internal investigations at battalion and divisional levels.

Azaria did not claim in either that he had shot Sharif because he feared a bomb.

Azaria was also charged with unbecoming conduct.