Rivlin Rejects Pardon For Azaria Over Hebron Shooting
President Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin has turned down a request for a pardon by Elor Azaria, the IDF soldier currently serving an 18-month sentence for the March, 2016 killing of a subdued terrorist in Hebron.
A statement released by the President’s Office on Sunday evening said Rivlin had reviewed Azaria’s request and in view of the fact that a military court had taken into account exonerating factors in its sentencing and in view of the fact the Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot had reduced the time Azaria would serve by four months, he had come to the conclusion that a further easing of Azaria’s punishment would “damage the resilience of the state of Israel and the IDF.”
“The IDF’s values, among them the purity of arms are the foundation of its strength and have always served us in our righteous struggle for a national homeland and in the building of a robust society,” the statement added.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman who had called on Rivlin to grant Azaria a pardon said he “expressed regret” at the decision.
“The opportunity arose to put an end to this affair, which rocked Israeli society,” Liberman said. “Beyond the personal price paid by the soldier and his family, I believed and continue to believe that in this unique case there was room to take into account the public interest, the need to heal the divisions in society and the effect of the events and the trial on IDF soldiers and on youths awaiting conscription. We must not forget that we are talking about an outstanding soldier and a terrorist who came to kill.”
On March 24, 2016, Azaria shot in the head Abdel Fatah al-Sharif, a Palestinian who had stabbed a soldier several minutes earlier on March 24, 2016. Al-Sharid had already been shot and subdued in the original incident, but Azaria claimed that he feared Sharif was wearing a suicide belt and had moved to detonate it. The court reject his claims and found him guilty of manslaughter.
The incident was captured on video and sparked a national debate about military ethics in the IDF.
Azaria was originally sentenced to 18 months in prison, but, in September, Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot reduced the sentence, meaning Azaria could leave prison as early as March 30, 2018, having served less than eight months behind bars, if he obtains additional time off for good behavior.