Israel cuts jail term of soldier who killed wounded assailant

In this file photo, Israeli soldier Elor Azaria (C), who shot dead a wounded Palestinian assailant in March 2016, standing next to his mother Oshra (L) and father Charlie during a hearing at a military court in Tel Aviv. Israel's military chief of staff on September 27, 2017, reduced the sentence of Azaria convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead a prone Palestinian assailant by four months, with the case having deeply divided the country. (AFP)
Updated 27 September 2017

Israel cuts jail term of soldier who killed wounded assailant

JERUSALEM: Israel’s military on Wednesday reduced by four months the 18-month jail term of an ex-soldier who killed an incapacitated Palestinian assailant, saying his service record warranted clemency though he showed no remorse in the case.
In March 2015, infantry conscript Elor Azaria was caught on videotape shooting dead a Palestinian who was lying wounded after taking part in a stabbing attack on other Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.
Azaria said he shot Abd Elfatah Ashareef because he feared the Palestinian could carry out another attack, but a court-martial found contradictions in the testimony and convicted him of manslaughter. The verdict was upheld on appeal.
After being discharged from the military, Azaria went to prison last month and appealed to the armed forces chief, Lt. General Gadi Eizenkot, to reconsider his sentence, citing the cost to his family of the acrimonious trial.
In a response letter made public on Wednesday, the military informed Azaria that Eizenkot had decided to cut the jail term “on grounds of compassion and mercy ... taking into account your past as a combat soldier in an operational theater.”
But the letter also faulted the former soldier over “grave actions for which you did not take responsibility and for which you did not express regret,” adding that “the important messages in the court rulings should be heeded.”
Azaria became a right-wing cause celebre in Israel, where most Jewish men and women are drafted at 18 for military service. One poll found that nearly half of Israeli Jews believe any Palestinian attacker should be killed on the spot.
The Palestinian government said Azaria’s jail term had given Israeli soldiers a “green light” to kill with impunity. Under Israeli law, manslaughter can carry a maximum 20 years behind bars. Military prosecutors had asked the appeals court to impose a three- to five-year sentence on Azaria, but were turned down.


World Bank approves $34 million to back Lebanon’s coronavirus vaccination drive

Updated 21 January 2021

World Bank approves $34 million to back Lebanon’s coronavirus vaccination drive

  • Lebanon has seen daily infection rates soar to the highest levels in the region

WASHINGTON: The World Bank on Thursday said it had approved a re-allocation of $34 million in funds to support Lebanon’s vaccination efforts as it races to contain the coronavirus pandemic, marking the first such outlay of funds by the Bank.
Lebanon has seen daily infection rates soar to the highest levels in the region, with over 6,000 cases reported on Friday, adding to economic and political pressures caused by a financial collapse and a huge port blast in August.
Thursday’s re-allocation of funds from Lebanon’s existing Health Resilience Project, is the first World Bank-financed operation to fund the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.
It will provide vaccines for over 2 million individuals, with doses set to arrive in Lebanon by early February, and earmarked for priority groups such as high-risk health workers, those over 65, epidemiological and surveillance staff, and people aged 55 to 64 with co-morbidities.
“Fair, broad, and fast access to COVID-19 vaccines is critical to protecting lives and supporting economic recovery,” World Bank Group President David Malpass said in a statement.
The World Bank said the decision to free the funds followed efforts by Lebanese authorities to conduct a vaccine readiness assessment, establish a national vaccine committee, and prepare a draft National Vaccine Deployment Plan (NVDP) in line with World Health Organization recommendations.
The Bank is working closely with over 100 countries to pave the way for them to receive low-interest loans and funding to purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines as part of a new $12 billion initiative approved in October.