Netanyahu and most Israelis support pardoning convicted soldier

A poll suggests that 70% of the Israeli public is in favor of pardoning Elor Azaria, who was convicted for shooting a neutralized Palestinian terrorist. Netanyahu also supports a pardon.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced support for the pardoning of IDF soldier Elor Azaria, who was convicted of manslaughter by a military court on Wednesday.

Last March, Azaria, a combat medic stationed at the time 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.

“This is a difficult and painful day for all of us – first and foremost for Elor and his family, for the soldiers of the IDF, for many citizens and for parents of soldiers, me among them,” Netanyahu said in a Facebook post posted several hours after the conviction.

He called on Israel’s citizens “to act with responsibility in regards to the IDF, its commanders and the chief of staff. We have one army which is the basis of our existence. The soldiers of the IDF are our sons and daughters, and they must remain above any division.”

“I support pardoning Elor Azaria,” he concluded.

Several other Israeli leaders and politicians from both sides of the political spectrum agreed that Azaria should be pardoned.

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President Reuven Rivlin, one of the individuals with the legal power to grant a pardon, released a non-committing statement regarding the possibility of such a move.

“In accordance with standard practice regarding requests for pardons on this or any case, requests for pardons are dealt with when submitted by the applicant themselves, or by one with power of attorney, or an immediate relative, following a conclusive judicial ruling,” the technical statement read.

“In light of the foregoing, and in relation to the case of the soldier Elor Azaria, in the event that a pardon should be requested, it will be considered by the President in accordance with standard practices and after recommendations from the relevant authorities,” the statement said.

A poll conducted by the Israel Hayom daily after the conviction shows that the vast majority of the Israeli public, 70 percent, believe Azaria should be pardoned. Only 19 percent opposed such a move, while 11 percent were unsure.

The rare case of an active serviceman being charged for killing a terrorist has polarized Israelis and inflamed public tensions, with some criticizing Azaria’s conduct and large segments of the public rallying behind him.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News