An IDF combat soldier who shot a neutralized terrorist in Hebron almost a year ago was found guilty of manslaughter.
An Israeli military court in Tel Aviv on Wednesday declared IDF Sgt. Elor Azaria guilty of manslaughter.
Last March, Azaria, a combat medic stationed in Hebron shot a neutralized terrorist in the head as he lay wounded on the ground after committing a stabbing attack against the soldier’s colleagues.
The defense maintained that Azaria felt his life was in danger, saying he thought the terrorist could have been carrying a bomb on his body. The prosecution insisted that Azaria’s action was unlawful and an act of vengeance, noting that the terrorist died of the gunshot rather than of wounds he sustained during the attack.
In her ruling, the judge, Col. Maya Heller, who read out the court’s decision for over two hours, questioned Azaria’s version of events and relied on accounts provided by other soldiers and commanders who questioned his actions.
Case has Divided Israelis
The rare case of an active serviceman being charged for murdering a terrorist has polarized Israelis and inflamed public tensions, with some criticizing Azaria’s conduct and large segments of the public rallying behind him.
Dozens of the soldier’s supporters gathered outside a military court ahead of the verdict. As soon as he was pronounced guilty, a minor riot broke out. Hundreds of demonstrators blocked a major Tel Aviv intersection near the courtroom and clashed with police. Journalists covering the demonstration said they were attacked.
Politicians have already called on President Reuven Rivlin to pardon Azaria immediately, saying he was defending the country on the battlefield.
By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News