An Israeli soldier who shot and killed a wounded Palestinian attacker has been sentenced to one and a half years in prison after a military trial that has deeply divided Israel.

The sentence is lighter than the three to five years sought by military prosecutors and significantly more lenient than the 20 years he could have faced.

Sergeant Elor Azaria, 20, was arrested last year after video emerged of him shooting a Palestinian man as he lay bleeding in the street in the West Bank city of Hebron. The Palestinian, 21-year-old Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, had stabbed an Israeli soldier moments before and had been shot but not killed by other Israeli troops. The video shows Azaria cocking his rifle and shooting the man once in the head as he lay motionless.

Judge Maya Heller, the head of a three-judge panel in the case, said that Azaria "took upon himself to be both judge and executioner".


Government ministers began clamouring for a pardon for Azaria, who has become a folk hero for some on the Israeli right.

"The security of the citizens of Israel demands an immediate pardon for Elor Azaria, who was sent to protect us," wrote Minister of Education Naftali Bennett.

Human rights groups said pardoning the soldier would undermine the verdict's "important message about reigning in excessive force".