Former IDF combat medic Elor Azaria entered military prison on Wednesday to begin his 18-month sentence for killing an incapacitated terrorist.
His punishment has been the center of wide-ranging debate over military ethics.
A crowd of supporters saw off Azaria from his home in Ramle. He was taken to the army’s Prison Four, located at Camp Yigael Yadin in Tzrifin, east of Rishon Lezion, in a car decorated with Israeli flags and with stickers expressing support for him, his parents, his girlfriend and his lawyer Yoram Sheftel.
Speaking to reporters, Sheftel said it was “a sad day for the IDF and a majority of Israel.”
Dozens of people were waiting for him at the entrance to the base.
The Military Court of Appeals denied his request on Tuesday to delay the beginning of his sentence until IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot decides whether or not to commute his sentence.
Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter by a military court in January for killing Palestinian attacker Abdel Fatah al-Sharif in Hebron on March 24, 2016. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison, 12 months’ suspended sentence after serving that term and demoted to private in February.
He has since been discharged from the army.
By law, Eisenkot will only be able to discuss Azaria’s request for clemency after September 7, when the verdict becomes final and cannot be appealed.
Military prosecutors announced on Monday that they opposed the request, saying it risked setting a precedent in which soldiers found guilty of a crime could delay their prison sentence until they receive a response to any request for clemency.
Azaria appealed to Eisenkot last week stating that he would not appeal to the Supreme Court and asked to have his sentence lightened to community service, writing the chief of staff that he wished “to clarify that if I had known in advance what became apparent in hindsight – that there was no explosive device on the body of the terrorist – I would not have shot.”Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.