“What if this had been a Palestinian terrorist shooting an unarmed Israeli soldier?”

An Israeli soldier who shot and killed a Palestinian terrorist has been convicted in an Israeli military court of manslaughter.

In the incident on 24 March, Abdul Fatah al-Sharif and another 21-year-old Palestinian, Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier before troops opened fire on them, wounding Sharif and killing Qasrawi.

Footage of the scene several minutes later, filmed by a Palestinian and released by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, shows Sharif alive.

A soldier, identified as Sgt Elor Azaria, 20, is then seen fatally shooting Sharif from several metres away.

In their indictment, prosecutors said Sgt Azaria “violated the rules of engagement without operational justification as the terrorist was lying on the ground wounded and represented no immediate threat for the accused or others who were present”.

However, Sgt Azaria said he thought Sharif might have an explosive vest and still posed a threat.

The high-profile trial has proven extremely divisive in Israel with rallies to support the soldier, with many saying it shouldn’t even have gone to trial, and some senior politicians backing the soldier. However, top military figures were quick to say that his actions did not reflect the values of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

Sgt Azaria awaits sentencing and an appeal is expected, but whilst Israel contends with whether the right conviction has been made in this case, one thing is for certain, the contrast could not be more stark: If this had been a Palestinian terrorist shooting an unarmed IDF soldier the terrorist would be honoured by the Palestinian leadership and a street, town square, or sporting venue would be named in their honour – as has been done many times in the past.

The world media is guilty of similar hypocrisy.  How many times has the media reported on innocent Israelis being killed in cold blood by Palestinian terrorists. Since 13 September 2015, 42 people have been killed in terrorist attacks and 602 people injured. There have been 167 stabbing attacks and 89 attempted stabbings; 116 shootings; 48 vehicular (ramming) attacks; and one vehicle (bus) bombing. The media in the UK has been largely silent on such incidents and yet the conviction of an Israeli soldier rightly or wrongly shooting a terrorist dead is breaking news.

Or take another example this week that is not in the mainstream media, unlike the conviction of Sdt Azaria, which has been headline news on the BBC, Sky and other channels throughout the day.

The story is of Sgt Oron Shaul, captured along with Lt. Hadar Goldin, during Operation Protective Edge during the summer of 2014. Shaul was killed along with six other soldiers on 20 July, when his armoured personnel carrier was struck in eastern Gaza. Shaul’s body has been held by Hamas for the past two years and on Saturday, the terrorist group released a sickening video mocking the Israeli soldier.

In the first video, the face of deceased Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul is superimposed on an actor, who is bound and sits cowering in front of a birthday cake with three candles, signifying three years that his body has been held by Hamas. (In another video Shaul’s face is animated to sing “Happy Birthday to You” in Hebrew with a thick Arabic accent.) Afterwards, Shaul is approached by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—dressed up as a clown—who then blows out the candles on the cake. The video ends with text saying, “the decision is in the government’s hands”—an apparent attempt to goad the Israeli government into negotiating for the return of Shaul’s body.

The other video also shows a birthday celebration, with a cake on a table reading, “Oron, three years in Hamas captivity.”

In the book of Micah, the prophet gave Israel a strong instruction to follow justice and mercy. In chapter 6 verse 8, it reads “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Today the world’s media has again unreasonably held Israel to standards above and beyond that of any other nation in the region. Meanwhile, whilst many are divided over the outcome of today’s decision, Israel has shown that it is prepared to take difficult steps to exercise justice – even upon members of its own military. Now, many will be watching whether Israel is prepared to exercise mercy.

Christians United for Israel UK