An Israeli soldier convicted of killing a wounded Palestinian youth said that he had no regrets in his first interview since leaving prison three months ago.
Elor Azaria shot the Palestinian youth Abdul-Fattah al-Sharif in the head at point-blank range as he was lying on the ground in the West Bank city of al-Khalil in 2016.
Azaria told the Hebrew-language daily newspaper Israel Hayom if he could relive the shooting, “I would act exactly the same because that’s how I needed to act.”
Azaria said that he behaved in accordance with the training he had received in the army, adding that he continued to do his job, carrying his gun, for a couple of hours after the shooting.
Following his release, the Israeli soldier returned to the crime scene in al-Khalil where he was received by dozens of Israeli settlers celebrating his release and chanting slogans supporting him.
Azaria was filmed shooting al-Sharif, who was injured, in the head while he was lying on the ground in al-Khalil city in March 2016. The same videotape showed Israeli medical crews refraining from providing first aid to the wounded Palestinian.
He was initially sentenced to 18 months in prison after being convicted of “manslaughter”, but Israel’s military chief, Gadi Eisenkot, later reduced the sentence by four months.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and many right-wing Israeli officials supported Azaria and called for executing all Palestinians who carry out attacks against Israeli settlers or soldiers even when they are injured.