U.N. human rights office decries Israeli sentence of Hebron shooter as ‘excessively lenient’

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — The United Nations’ human rights office said it is “deeply disturbed” by the 18-month prison term given to an Israeli soldier who killed a wounded Palestinian terrorist after he had been subdued.

Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, criticized the sentence for manslaughter as too lenient on Friday in Geneva, Reuters reported.

She called it “excessively lenient” and “unacceptable,” adding that: “This case risks undermining confidence in the justice system and reinforcing the culture of impunity.” Israel, the United States as well as the previous secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, have accused the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other forums at the United Nations of pursuing an anti-Israeli bias that singles out the Jewish state for criticism.

The soldier, Elor Azaria, was sentenced by a military tribunal Tuesday. He has remained in custody since March 2016.

The family of Abdul Fattah al-Sharif, the 21-year-old Palestinian who was fatally shot as he lay wounded following an attempted stabbing attack on Israeli soldiers in Hebron last March, called Azaria’s trial a “farce.”


Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that he wants to see Azaria pardoned.

“I am still in favor of pardoning Private Azaria,” Netanyahu told reporters accompanying him on an official visit to Australia, Israel’s Channel 10 reported. Netanyahu had already spoken out in favor of such a pardon even before the sentence.

A number of other government ministers have also called for him to be pardoned.

A poll published on Wednesday by the Maariv daily found that 69 percent of Israelis support a pardon, with 56 percent saying the punishment was too severe.

Azaria maintained he shot the terrorist, who had not been frisked, for fear he might detonate an explosive vest. But the judges dismissed this claim as not credible.