Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has come out in support of a pardon of Sgt. Elor Azaria, the soldier who was convicted of manslaughter on Wednesday after fatally shooting a terrorist who attacked Hebron.
“I support a pardon for Elor Azaria,” Netanyahu claimed.
“This is a very difficult and painful day for all of us and first and foremost for Elor and his family, for IDF soldiers, for many soldiers and for the parents of our soldiers, and me among them.
“We have one army, which is the basis of our existence. The soldiers of the IDF are our sons and daughters, and they need to remain above dispute.”
Earlier in the day, Arye Deri, the Minister of the Interior; Yisrael Katz, the Transport Minister; Naftali Bennet’s Jewish Home Party had called on President Reuven Rivlin to pardon Elor Azaria, saying that what he and his family have been through is enough of a punishment and he doesn’t deserve to sit even one day in prison.
Bennett said: “Today a soldier who killed a terrorist who deserved to die, who tried to slaughter [another] soldier, was placed in shackles and convicted as a criminal.”
Transport Minister Yisrael Katz said: “The court has spoken and now the government and army must take responsibility and pardon the soldier, whom we sent to the front line to defend Israelis from Palestinian terror.”
Former sergeant Elor Azaria had been on trial in a military court since May for the manslaughter of ِAbdel Fattah al-Sharif, who was after shot stabbing an Israeli soldier. Video was released by the anti-IDF group, ‘Betzelem’ with the claim that the terrorist had been neutralized and no longer posed a threat, however EMT’s on the scene were overheard to be nervous about approaching the terrorist for fear that he may have a bomb or other weapon.
Azaria, who was 19 at the time of the shooting, was also found guilty of ‘indecent behaviour’, after judges spent over two hours reading out their verdict.
The IDF sergeant faces u nowp to 20 years in prison, but is yet to be sentenced.
Azaria’s lawyer immediately said he plans to appeal the verdict, claiming that it is the first time in 12 years that an IDF soldier has been convicted over actions while in uniform.