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    Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, who is charged with manslaughter by the Israeli military, sits to hear his verdict in a military court in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 4, 2017

    Netanyahu Backs Amnesty Calls for Soldier Convicted of Killing Palestinian

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    The Israeli soldier accused of manslaughter for killing an immobilized Palestinian attacker deserves to be pardoned, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Earlier in the day, local media reported that Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) medic Elor Azaria was convicted of manslaughter.

    The Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International group said that the move gives hope for more justice in cases of unwarranted violence by soldiers in the region.

    "Today’s conviction of a member of the Israeli forces is a rare occurrence in a country with a long record of using excessive and unwarranted force, and where soldiers who may have committed crimes under international law very seldom face prosecution. The verdict is a small step in the right direction and offers a glimmer of hope that soldiers who commit unlawful killings may no longer go unpunished," Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, was quoted as saying in the watchdog's statement.

    However, Netanyahu called to pardon Azaria.

    "It was a difficult and painful day for us and, first of all, for Elor and his family. I support amnesty for Elor Azaria," the prime minister wrote on his Facebook page.

    In March 2016, Palestinian assailant Abdel Fattah Sharif was shot and wounded as he attempted to stab an IDF soldier in Hebron. Azaria shot the assailant in the head 15 minutes later and subsequently explained his actions saying that he thought Sharif still posed a threat to Azaria and his fellow soldiers as he might have been rigged with explosives.

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