Soldier who killed neutralized terrorist denied release from prison before Passover

Denied immediate release, Elor Azaria will go home in May after serving 10 months of his 14-month sentence.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Elor Azaria, the former combat medic convicted of manslaughter in January 2017 for killing a terrorist in Hebron who attacked his fellow soldiers, was brought to a military parole hearing Wednesday, where his request to have his sentence reduced by half, which would have meant an immediate release from prison, was denied.

Azaria’s lawyer, Yoram Sheftel, referring to the widespread calls by the political echelon for reducing his client’s punishment, said in the hearing, “It has not yet happened in the history of the IDF that 12 ministers, first and foremost the prime minister, signed a request to the President of the State that he consider leniency.”

President Reuven Rivlin refused Azaria’s request for an outright pardon in November after the sentence had been reduced from 18 to 14 months following an appeal to the IDF chief of staff.

The prosecutor told the court, according to the 0404 news site, that her office was against granting the parole because Azaria, dubbed “had undermined the moral strength of the IDF” and had not taken responsibility for his actions.

However, the court has agreed to Azaria’s release in May, when he will have served 10 months of his sentence.

In Azaria’s statement to the judges, he said, “As the lawyers mentioned, it’s almost the holiday of freedom (Passover), and I say to you, honored judges, that there’s a bleeding wound here that needs to be treated – not only for my family, but for the whole people of Israel. I beg of you, free me today.”

In the March 24, 2016, incident, two Palestinians stabbed and wounded a soldier in Hebron, with troops reacting by killing one and wounding another, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif. As al-Sharif lay immobile on the ground, Azaria shot him fatally in the head. At his military trial, Azaria, dubbed “the Hebron shooter,” claimed that he killed al-Sharif because he saw the terrorist move his hand towards his coat and feared that he was about to explode a bomb hidden on his body.

The trial raised high emotions in Israel, with some agreeing with the army that Azaria had broken the rules concerning when deadly force should be used, and others saying that he should not be punished for killing someone who had just tried to murder Israeli soldiers.