Israeli ministers call on president to pardon Hebron shooter

The military appeals court has upheld he conviction and sentencing of Elor Azaria on manslaughter charges. Meretz leader calls on Rivlin to uphold rule of law.

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July 30, 2017 16:12
3 minute read.
Hebron shooter Elor Azaria and his mother, July 2017

Hebron shooter Elor Azaria and his mother heading to court, July 30 2017. (photo credit: ANNA AHRONHEIM)

Following the decision by the IDF's court to maintain Hebron shooter Elor Azaria's manslaughter conviction and year and a half prison sentence on Sunday, ministers from the ruling Likud party and others on the right called for President Reuven Rivlin to pardon him.  

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his call for a pardon for Azaria that he issued in January remains intact. He said he would issue a formal request when it becomes relevant.

 
Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman requested from the family not to push for another appeal, rather to ask the Chief of Staff to pardon the former soldier. "I have no doubt that the Chief of Staff will consider the difficult circumstances of him [Azaria] being an exemplary soldier." President Rivlin is expected to follow the Chief of Staff's recommendation on the issue.
 
"Following the murders in Halamish, it is important to remember who are the good guys and who are the bad guys," Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said. "A soldier who kills a terrorist is not a criminal."
 
Culture Minister Miri Regev said Azaria should have been permanently home by now.
 
"The decision is hard, but the court must be respected," said Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi). "Now, after a year and a half of troubles, it is time to pardon Elor Azaria. For the sake of our soldiers stationed on the frontlines, and so as not to lose our deterrence, Elor Azaria must be returned to his home."
 
Bennett turned to the public and demanded they refrain from attacking the IDF or its high command: "I have nothing but trust in Chief of Staff Eizenkott and the IDF's commanders. There is no room for calls against them, the likes of which were made in the past, under any circumstance."aid
 
"The decision is hard, but the court must be respected. Now, after a year and a half of troubles, it is time to pardon Elor Azaria. For the sake of our soldiers stationed on the frontlines, and so as not to lose our deterrence, Elor Azaria must be returned to his home."
 
Bennett turned to the public and demanded they refrain from attacking the IDF or its high command: "I have nothing but trust in Chief of Staff Eizenkott and the IDF's commanders. There is no room for calls against them, the likes of which were made in the past, under any circumstance."

Deputy Minister Michael Oren (Kulanu) said the rules for opening fire should be clarified so there will not be questions for soldiers like Azaria in the future.

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Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said the decision to reject the appeal was important, because it sent a message that soldiers cannot "take revenge like gangs." She said she was sure that Rivlin would deny the pardon request and rule on the side of the law.

Labor leader Avi Gabbay said Netanyahu and Liberman should not have gotten involved in the case. He said politicians should not intervene in a matter for the military courts.

MK Tzipi Livni said that "the court had its say again. [We] need to respect the IDF courts decision and its values- without politicians advising the family or the Chief of Staff. Let the IDF decide and win. "

In response the President's Office said that only Azaria himself could apply for a pardon and that the politicians' requests were irrelevant.

Daniel Altman contributed to this report.



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