Netanyahu Calls for a Pardon on Convicted Soldier

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Earlier today, Sgt. Elor Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter after killing a Palestinian attacker.  The highly controversial case has exposed deep divisions in the country.

Abdel Fattah al-Sharif and another attacker had moments before attacked an Israeli soldier on sentry duty with a knife, wounding him.  The other attacker was shot dead and Sharif fell to the ground wounded.  Footage recorded shows that Azaria shot him.

At the military trial, he was found guilty of manslaughter after the defence rejected his defence of being scared and Sharif was already dead.

Calls for a pardon for Azaria were quick to surface and now it looks like he may have one.  Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister wrote, “I support giving Elor Azaria a pardon.”

Reuven Rivlin, Israel’s president can issue pardons but has said he will wait for the legal process to run its course before he does.  He has said he will consider it “in accordance with standard practices and after recommendations from the relevant authorities.”

Azaria will be sentenced in a few weeks time.  His defence team has already said it will launch an appeal against the process which will probably involve requesting a pardon for the soldier.

The case has seen political outbursts.  Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home party, posted on Facebook, “Today a soldier who killed a terrorist who deserved to die, who had tried to slaughter a soldier, was put in handcuffs and convicted like a criminal.”

Meanwhile, the father of Sharif said, I feel good. It is fair. This is an achievement of the court that it condemned the soldier.”

It took the judge three hours to deliver the verdict. Sharif described hearing the verdict as tense, saying, “I was exhausted and tense.  I smoked two packs of cigarettes while watching the verdict.”

Military prosecutor Lt. Col. Nadav Weissman, “The judges decided that it was an unjustified shooting. This is not a happy day for us. We would have preferred that this didn’t happen. But the deed was done, and the offense was severe.”

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