The IDF soldier suspected of shooting an imobilized Palestinian attacker in Hebron.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)
The chairman of the Knesset House Committee, Likud MK David Bitan, began a petition Wednesday asking President Reuven Rivlin to grant a pardon to IDF Sgt. Elor Azaria, whom the IDF prosecutor on Monday indicted for manslaughter for fatally shooting a Palestinian terrorist in Hebron on March 24 who was already wounded and lying motionless on the ground.
Bitan intends to get people to sign the petition on Facebook and at major intersections around the country during the intermediate days of Passover when many Israelis visit national parks and tourist sites.
“He should be pardoned, not punished, because he was sent to Hebron to fight terrorists,” Bitan said. “We need to show our soldiers that we support them when they make mistakes.”
Bitan compared Azaria’s pending court martial to the Bus 300 affair in 1984, in which Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) agents executed two Palestinian bus hijackers. Then president Chaim Herzog issued a blanket pardon to the head of the Shin Bet at the time, Avraham Shalom, and to four other Shin Bet officers, one of whom, Ehud Yatom, later became a Knesset member.
“The Bus 300 Affair was much more grave, but they were pardoned,” Bitan said. “Elor should not sit in jail for a single day. I hope that if hundreds of thousands of people sign the petition, the president will agree to pardon him.”
Zionist Union MK Eyal Ben-Reuven, a retired major-general, responded that Bitan’s campaign undermined the IDF’s legal process and everyone involved in investigating the incident.
“This is a matter for the IDF, not the politicians, and Bitan is making a horrible mistake,” Ben-Reuven said.