Israel soldier who killed Palestinian freed from prison

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JERUSALEM (AA) – Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, who shot an already-incapacitated Palestinian man after an alleged attack in 2016, was released from prison on Tuesday.

Last march, a military court accepted an early-release request lodged by the convicted soldier’s lawyers, leaving him with only one third of his 18-month jail term.

Azaria was sentenced to 18 months in prison after being found guilty of killing Abdul Fattah al-Sharif.

He shot Sharif in the head, even though he had been injured and disarmed after an alleged attack in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron in March 2017.

Many on Israel's right wing, however, said Azaria should never have been convicted in the first place.

The Palestinian government, for its part, condemned the release of Azaria, saying the move "encourages Israeli soldiers to kill Palestinians in cold blood".

"This early release gives a green light to Israeli troops to commit more crimes against innocent people," read a statement issued by the Ramallah-based government on Tuesday.

In September 2017, Israeli Army Chief-of-Staff Gadi Eizenkot reduced Azaria’s sentence to a mere 14 months behind bars.

Azaria became the subject of an investigation after an activist with Israeli rights group B'Tselem captured him on film fatally shooting al-Sharif — unarmed and injured — in the head.

The ensuing high-profile legal case led to a fissure in the Israeli government after the army took the rare step of investigating an Israeli soldier for killing a Palestinian.

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