(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu added his name to a petition circulating the Knesset Monday calling on President Reuven Rivlin to reconsider his decision not to pardon IDF combat medic Elor Azaria, who began serving his 18-month sentence in a military prison in August for killing incapacitated terrorist Abdel Fatah al-Sharif on March 24, 2016.
The letter was circulated by former Yisrael Beytenu MK Sharon Gal, who is close to the Azaria family.
Rivlin’s office responded in a statement that the petition has yet to be officially received and will be addressed directly when it is. But the office noted that only the subject, their lawyers or their immediate family members are allowed to submit pardon requests. The statement added that it was common practice to wait six months after a previous pardon request to issue another request to the president, unless a major change in circumstances occurred.
In rejecting the pardon
request last week, Rivlin’s legal adviser wrote to Azaria that the president had taken into account the fact that in September 2017, IDF chief of staff Gadi Eizenkot eased his sentence, reducing the punishment by four months “for reasons of compassion and while taking into consideration your military service as a soldier.”
Gal said that next week he would present Rivlin the letter, which has been signed by nearly half the Knesset, including Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi), Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud), and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu).
Opposition leaders attacked Netanyahu for signing the letter. Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid called the prime minister’s signature “an attack on the president, IDF chief of staff, and the army as a whole.”
“The prime minister signed a petition?” Yesh Atid faction head Ofer Shelah asked. “What’s next? Will he go to a demonstration Saturday night against the attorney-general in Petah Tikva?”
IDF soldier shoots dead subdued Palestinian terrorist in Hebron, part of Elor Azaria case
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On accused Netanyahu of “playing politics” and ignoring the verdict of a court of eight judges.
Videos of the incident, which went viral and brought widespread international condemnation, show Azaria shooting the incapacitated terrorist while he was lying on the ground – although Azaria claimed his shots were in self-defense, and he feared a possible knife attack or concealed explosive vest.
Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.
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