Netanyahu supports pardon for Israeli soldier who killed defenseless Palestinian Prisoner

Ma’an News Agency | – –

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came out on Wednesday in support of pardoning Elor Azarya, as right-wing Israeli officials further coalesced in support of the Israeli soldier who was convicted of manslaughter for the point-blank shooting of a Palestinian in Hebron.

The Israeli military court gave a wholesale endorsement of the prosecution’s argument that Azarya was unjustified in killing 21-year-old Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif in March, based in part on the blistering testimonies given by Azarya’s army commanders.

Following the verdict on Wednesday, Netanyahu issued a statement on social media in which he said that the ruling marked “a hard and painful day for all of us, first and foremost for Elor and his family, the soldiers of the (Israeli army), many citizens, and the parents of soldiers, myself included.”

“We have one army, which is the basis of our existence,” Netanyahu added. “The soldiers of the IDF are all of our sons and daughters, and they need to remain above dispute. I support pardoning Elor Azaria.”

Manslaughter charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, and Azarya can appeal both the conviction and the sentence to the Israeli military appeals court.

A court reporter for Israel’s The Jerusalem Post said that the judge’s “one-sided” conviction made the decision more vulnerable to appeal, as judges had not expressed any sympathy to the defense’s argument.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is likely to face a request to pardon Azarya, according to reports, as Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett has already stated that the soldier should be granted an immediate pardon.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has also reportedly not ruled out the possibility of a pardon in private discussion, however on Wednesday he said the verdict had to be respected, despite his displeasure with the conviction.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Lieberman stated that calls for a pardon were “ignorance and slogans” following Netanyahu’s statement.

While Azarya has garnered mass support from Israel’s far-right citizens and government, who have labeled the soldier a national hero, the outcome of the trial has been described by the Palestinian Authority as a “show trial” handing down a lenient sentence on the soldier, while focusing on the case to distract from a wider culture of impunity for Israeli forces.

Israeli human rights group Gush Shalom issued a statement on Wednesday calling the verdict “very far from justice.”

“The great miscarriage of justice is in the very fact that a single young soldier was placed alone in the dock, to be condemned for a crime in which very many others share guilt,” Gush Shalom added. “Missing in the dock at Azarya’s side were government ministers and Knesset Members, government supporters as well as those from the ‘opposition’, who had outspokenly called upon soldiers to do precisely what Azarya did…The soldier Elior Azarya is a minor accomplice, the main culprit is the occupation.”

Azarya, now 20, was the only member of Israeli forces to be charged with the death of a Palestinian in 2016 — when at least 112 Palestinians were shot and killed by Israelis — according to Human Rights Watch.

Meanwhile, the al-Sharif family has vowed to take the case to the International Criminal Court to obtain justice for their slain relative, arguing the video-documented case was in fact cold-blooded murder.

Via Ma’an News Agency

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

Euronews: “Netanyahu calls for pardon of convicted soldier”

One response

  1. “Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is likely to face a request to pardon Azaria……….”

    This has already occurred as Likud Party cabinet minister Miri Regev has already requested a pardon for the convicted sergeant.

    Legal experts within Israel have expected a sentence of no less than three years incarceration with the sentence most likely in the four to five year range. This apparent expected leniency is compounded by the fact that Sgt. Azaria’s house arrest of about one year at an IDF base will be credited against any sentence handed down to him.

    Two Israelis have already been arrested for threatening the three-judge panel of the military tribunal that convicted Azaria.

    It is noteworthy that a Bedouin Arab IDF sergeant received an eight-year sentence after being convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death in Gaza of International Solidarity Movement activist and Briton Thomas Hurndall. That sergeant, Taysir Hayb, was released after serving six year years of that sentence.

    Once Sgt. Azaria is sentenced he may seek a mitigation of his sentence by filing a petition with Maj. General Roni Numa, the IDF Central Command chief within seven days after imposition of his sentence; this is unlikely to be very successful since: (A) Gen. Numa was involved with the investigative process that resulted in the initiation of the manslaughter charge, (B) recent requests for mitigation in other cases filed with the office of the chief of the Central Command have been generally unsuccessful.

    What has not been emphasized in recent media coverage of the case in question is that there were several other acts of improper conduct revealed in the incident. One is the fact that two IDF officers onsite were reprimanded for denying medical assistance to the two Palestinians suspected in the stabbing and the second is that a video camera captured a knife being planted next to the corpse of Mr. Al-Sharif just after Sgt. Azaria shot him, but no prosecution for obstruction of justice was initiated.

    link to ynetnews.com

    link to theguardian.com

    link to haaretz.com

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