Tel Aviv, February 22 - Following the sentencing of an IDF soldier for a manslaughter conviction after he killed a wounded, neutralized Palestinian terrorist, members of the Joint List of mostly Arab parties in the Knesset voiced concern today that the severity of the sentence might be sufficient to demonstrate that Israel's military justice system functions properly, and the International Criminal Court might therefore not accept cases against Israeli leaders.
A military court sentenced Sgt. Elor Azaria to eighteen months' imprisonment yesterday for the shooting death of a Palestinian attacker who had attempted to stab soldiers in Hebron last year. The court determined earlier that Azaria knew that the attacker, who had already been shot and lay on the ground, was no longer armed, and that the lack of a continued threat to those present had been established when he pulled the trigger. A military court sentenced Azaria to a year-and-a-half behind bars, a punishment that critics deemed laughable for such a crime, but which still carries the potential to avoid international legal complications. That prospect has lawmakers from Balad, Hadash, Raam-Taal, and the United Arab List worried that the country to whom they have sworn loyalty as Members of Knesset may end up not facing international criminal sanction.
"This is a serious development," declared a subdued Ahmad Tibi. "Obviously anything short of the death penalty is a miscarriage of justice. But what makes matters worse is that the decision-makers in The Hague will look at the process and determine that Israel has a reliable mechanism for apprehending, trying, and sentencing official State functionaries who commit crimes against the Palestinians, and decline to assert its authority. That would be a lamentable setback for anyone who cares about undermining the stability and security of this country."
"We are more than a little disappointed," agreed Haneen Zoabi. "The penalty for killing a Palestinian hero freedom fighter should be much more severe than imprisonment - that is, if the perpetrator is a Jew. We couldn't care less if Assad's forces or allies do it, to the tune of thousands of our brethren. At this point we who are devoted to the delegitimization of Israel have only one clear course of action: since the only way to invite ICC action is to demonstrate Israeli disregard for due criminal process regarding those who harm Palestinians, we have to amplify our incitement so as to increase Palestinian violence, which will invite Israeli measures to counter or prevent it, some of which might well be fodder for another criminal case."
"It's the only reasonable option anyone has," she added.