Convicted IDF soldier’s appeal refused
THE IDF appeals court on Sunday unanimously turned down the appeal of former Sergeant Elor Azaria against his conviction of manslaughter for shooting an incapacitated Palestinian attacker in Hebron.
A majority of the five military judges upheld his sentence of 18 months in prison, while two were of the opinion that his sentence should be lengthened. Mr Azaria is to begin serving his sentence next week in a military prison.
Meanwhile, all attention is now turned to the possibility that he could receive a pardon.
The ruling was emphatic in striking down all the claims made by Mr Azaria’s lawyer, Yoram Sheftel, including the central one — that Azaria
Begins his sentence next week: Azaria believed the wounded attacker may have been carrying a bomb. “The appellant prepared himself to shoot in a way that is reminiscent of a firing range, not the scene of a terror attack which is about to hit again with a bomb,” the judges wrote.
They added: “The IDF is not an illegal militia, but an organised army of defence belonging to a state of law. Its fighters are ordered to combat terrorists who try to kill them. But they must not settle scores with them once the danger has passed. That it is the role of the law-enforcement system.”
The Hebron shooting case has caused a great deal of political strife in Israel, including an open argument between former defence minister Moshe Yaalon, who unreservedly criticised the soldier’s conduct, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was more equivocal. Politicians on the right, from the prime minister downwards, have been calling for Azaria to be pardoned. On Sunday, after the ruling, Mr Netanyahu said in a statement: “My opinion on pardoning Elor Azaria has not changed.”
In order for the IDF Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot, to consider pardoning Mr Azaria, the soldier would first have to accept his guilt and express remorse. So far, he has yet to do so and neither his lawyer — who is planning to request permission to appeal to the Supreme Court — nor his parents, have indicated that he is in any way prepared to say he acted wrongly.
It is unlikely that the judges will admit a right of appeal to the Supreme Court.