Ahead of appeal ruling, sides in Hebron shooter case take last shot at deal

Meeting comes amid rare post-conviction negotiations during the appeal process.

Le soldat Elor Azaria  (photo credit: REUTERS)
Le soldat Elor Azaria
(photo credit: REUTERS)
IDF chief prosecutor Col. Sharon Zigagi met with Yoram Sheftel, an attorney for Hebron shooter Elor Azaria, on Thursday, several days after the IDF Appeals Court asked them to try once more to reach a compromise over sentencing.
Azaria, a sergeant in the Kfir Brigade, was convicted of manslaughter in February for the March 2016 killing of Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, who had stabbed another soldier in Hebron and was lying on the ground after having been shot and wounded. Azaria was given an 18-month prison sentence and was demoted to the rank of private.
The lead prosecutor in the case, Lt. Col. Nadav Weissman, was also at Thursday’s meeting, though IDF Military Advocate General Brig.-Gen. Sharon Afek was not. It is unclear if the meeting was a serious attempt to reach a deal or whether the prosecution was merely going through the motions of respecting the court’s request. The Post previously learned that Afek had no plans to allow a reduction in the sentence.
On Sunday, Sheftel and Weissman went after each other hard.
It was the “trial of your life! The trial of your life!” Sheftel shouted angrily at Weissman.
The panel of five appellate judges, with chief judge Maj.- Gen. Doron Filis presiding, pounded Azaria’s defense team with questions about holes in their arguments as to why the verdict should be overturned.
They also heard the prosecution’s stance that the 18-month sentence was too light and pressed both sides one last time to mediate toward a compromise.
Sheftel struck some new ground during Sunday’s session, arguing that even if Azaria had changed his story five times, two key prosecution witnesses had changed their own stories nine and 14 times, respectively. He repeated his argument that Azaria’s confession at the scene, that he had shot Sharif out of revenge, never happened because there was no indication of this confession in the many videos of the incident.