An IDF soldier convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead an incapacitated Palestinian assailant has had his prison sentence reduced by a parole board. It is the second time his sentence has been shortened
Elor Azaria will now be released on May 10. He was initially given an 18 month sentence, which began last August. In September, Gadi Eizenkot, the IDF chief of staff, announced a four month reduction to this “on grounds of compassion and mercy ... taking into account your past as a combat soldier in an operational theater”. The parole board has now announced a further five month reduction, on account of Azaria’s good behaviour in prison.
A former sergeant in the IDF, Azaria was found guilty last year, after video footage was published showing him shooting Abdul Fatah al-Sharif in Hebron in March 2016.
Al-Sharif had carried out a stabbing attack on an Israeli soldier, and had been shot and wounded when Azaria, then a sergeant, shot him in the head, killing him.
The case divided Israeli society; many felt that Azaria should not be punished for killing a terrorist, while others stressed the importance of the rule of law, which Azaria had broken. At the time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would support any decision to pardon Azaria. However, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin rejected multiple appeals for clemency.
Azaria has shown no remorse for actions, continuing to insist that he shot al-Sharif because he believed the attacker was wearing an explosive vest.