Israeli soldier asks army chief for leniency after losing appeal in shooting of downed Palestinian
Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, convicted of shooting a downed Palestinian terrorist, has asked the head of the Israel Defense Forces for leniency.
Azaria made the request of Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot days after a military appeals court upheld both the conviction and the 18-month prison sentence, which the prosecution had called too lenient. Azaria reportedly will not appeal the decisions to Israel’s Supreme Court.
In the letter, Azaria reportedly repeated his defense that he believed the Palestinian attacker was planning a suicide bombing from his prone position after he was shot and injured by other soldiers.
Azaria has not expressed remorse for his actions; regretting them could help him obtain leniency, observers say.
Azaria’s attorney, Yoram Sheftel, attacked Eisenkot in a television interview Monday, saying the chief of staff “is fat and doesn’t project a soldierly image in his appearances.”
Following the verdict, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and several other Israeli government ministers called for Azaria to be pardoned. Netanyahu also backed a pardon following Azaria’s conviction in January.
Azaria also noted his mother’s reliance on sleeping pills and his father’s stroke in the wake of the case, The Times of Israel reported.
Azaria, who was sentenced in February, has been under house arrest since leaving the military last week. He had been confined to the closed Nachshonim military base since being arrested in March 2016.
A medic in the elite Kfir Brigade, Azaria came on the scene following a Palestinian stabbing attack on soldiers in the West Bank city of Hebron on March 24, 2016. One assailant was killed, and Abdel Fattah al-Sharif was injured. Minutes later, while Sharif was lying on the ground, Azaria shot him in the head in a shooting that was captured on video by a local resident for the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.
Azaria was arrested the same day and indicted nearly a month later. Autopsy reports showed that the shots by Azaria killed Sharif. Prior to shooting Sharif, Azaria had cared for a stabbed soldier.