She also said that it was Azaria's shooting that killed the terrorist, Abed al Fatah a-Sharif, who was lying wounded on the ground after he tried to stab a soldier. Outside, scores of activists demonstrating in support of Azaria - among them far-right supporters of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer club - clashed with police and border guards dispatched to maintain order.

The incident with Azaria and Sharif took place during a wave of knife and gun attacks on Israelis by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs in Israel and the West Bank. Azaria was arrested immediately and court proceedings began a few days later.

He said: "I felt that the court picked up the knife from the ground and stabbed it in the back of all the soldiers".

A spokesman for the family of the Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of an incapacitated Palestinian attacker says the court ignored evidence indicating the soldier was innocent. On behalf of the three-judge panel, Heller said there was no reason for Azaria to open fire since the Palestinian was posing no threat, calling Azaria's testimony "evolving and evasive".

He will be sentenced at a later date.

The IDF said in a statement that it respected the court verdict and would study its implications, while giving Azaria and his family all the support they need. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked the military to grant Azaria a pardon.

It was a representation rejected by the Israeli army's chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot, speaking at a conference the day before the verdict. Palestinians dismissed the trial as a sham.

Azaria's defense attorneys have argued that their client believed that Sharif still posed a threat to himself and his fellow soldiers, suspecting he may have been rigged with explosives. Right-wingers denounced the move and Obama's apparent role in encouraging its passage, even though the USA formally abstained.

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After the Security Council voted in December to declare Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank illegal, the Israeli government reacted angrily by scaling down its relations with the 12 countries that voted in favor of the resolution.

The conviction, though, could put Netanyahu in a tricky position.

Right-wing politicians and hundreds of Azaria's supporters have insisted he was treated unfairly by left-wing elites in the army and media.

Last week, he said, that is exactly what happened. "The IDF expects its soldiers to behave level-headedly and in accordance with the rules of engagement".

Outside Israel's military headquarters in Tel Aviv, where the court announced the verdict, dozens of Azaria supporters scuffled with police.

"They preferred the version of Btselem over the version of an IDF fighter", Sharon Gal, the Azaria family's media advisor said.

Wednesday's verdict was also particularly uncomfortable for defense minister Avigdor Liberman, leader of the Yisrael Beytenu party.

Broadcaster Oded Ben Ami told Sky News that the killing was "against the values of the IDF" but some believe "what (Azaria) did was the right thing. because this was a terrorist and a terrorist must die". He said, "I feel good. This harms the military". "Our hero!" relatives of Azaria chanted after the verdict was delivered.