An IDF soldier found guilty of manslaughter for shooting a neutralized terrorist in Hebron almost a year ago was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
An Israeli military court in Tel Aviv on Tuesday sentenced IDF Sgt. Elor Azaria to 18 months in prison after finding him guilty of manslaughter in January.
Azaria was also demoted to the rank of Private and received another 12-month suspended sentence.
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 gunshot wounds rather than of those sustained during the attack.
The court questioned Azaria’s version of events and relied on accounts provided by other soldiers and commanders who questioned his actions.
The court took into consideration several mitigating factors, including the fact that Azariya was an outstanding soldier and that he did not receive proper treatment from his officers when suffering from emotional stress after the incident, and sentenced him to the shortest term prescribed by law. The prosecution demanded a minimum of three years and up to five years in prison.
The sides may still appeal the sentencing, potentially prolonging this saga.
Case has Divided Israelis
The rare case of an active serviceman being tried for shooting a terrorist has polarized Israelis and inflamed public tensions, with some criticizing Azaria’s conduct and large segments of the public rallying behind him.
Politicians have already called on President Reuven Rivlin to pardon Azaria immediately, saying he was defending the country on the battlefield.
After the sentencing on Tuesday, Ministers Miri Regev and Naftali Bennett called for Azaria’s immediate pardoning.
A poll conducted after Azaria’ conviction shows that 70 percent of the Israeli public is in favor of pardoning him.
By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News