Netanyahu supports pardon of IDF soldier convicted of manslaughter



Israeli soldier Sgt. Elor Azaria, who shot dead an immobilized Palestinian terrorist in Hebron last March, is surrounded by family and friends as he awaits to hear his verdict in a courtroom at the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv Jan. 4, 2017. Azaria was convicted of manslaughter. Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90.

( Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu added his voice to the chorus of Israeli politicians calling for Elor Azaria—the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier convicted of manslaughter Wednesday for shooting a subdued Palestinian terrorist—to be pardoned. 

"This is a hard and painful day for all of us, first and foremost for Elor and his family, the soldiers of the IDF, many citizens and the parents of soldiers, myself included," Netanyahu wrote in a Facebook post. "I call on all Israeli citizens to act responsibly toward the IDF, its commanders and the IDF chief of staff. The soldiers of the IDF are the sons and daughters of all of us. I support pardoning Elor Azaria."

Earlier Wednesday, an Israeli military court convicted Azaria, 19, for shooting to death a subdued Palestinian terrorist who had just stabbed two soldiers minutes earlier during an attack last March in Hebron. The incident and subsequent trial was one of the most polarizing affairs in recent years in Israel. 

Several other leading Israeli politicians—including Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud)—called for Azaria to be pardoned. 

In response to the calls, the office of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who has the power to pardon or commute sentences in Israel, said the defendant must first apply for clemency and that any requests will be handled after all legal proceedings conclude.

“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,” Rivlin’s office said.

Posted on January 4, 2017 .