IDF prosecutors oppose appeal by Azaria to delay start of prison term

"Military justice states that serving a prison sentence is immediate."

Elor Azaria, July 29 2017. (photo credit: MAARIV)
Elor Azaria, July 29 2017.
(photo credit: MAARIV)
IDF judges on Tuesday will hear the appeal of former soldier Elor Azaria to delay the beginning of his sentencing just 24 hours before it will begin. Military prosecutors on Monday opposed the appeal by Azaria – the so-called “Hebron shooter” – to delay the start of his prison term, calling it an unjustified request.
Azaria’s 18-month sentence was handed down in January after his conviction for shooting to death subdued Palestinian attacker, Abdel Fatah al-Sharif, in Hebron in March 2016. It was upheld by a military appeals court last week.
Azaria is scheduled to begin serving time on Wednesday.
He sought to delay his incarceration pending a decision by Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot on a petition Azaria filed to commute the sentence.
“There is no basis in reality” to Azaria’s appeal, a statement issued by the Military Advocate General said.
“The immediacy of punishment is based on the discipline on which the military establishment rests. There is no justification for Azaria’s case to be different than those of other soldiers who request clemency; soldiers who only do so after they begin serving their sentences.”
On Sunday, Azaria’s lawyer Yoram Sheftel asked for a hearing on the issue on Wednesday before Azaria begins serving time at Prison 4 in Tzrifin.
In his first public statement since last week’s appeal decision, Azaria on Thursday said he believed he could be found innocent by the Supreme Court appeal, but is going to prison “with my head held high.” Azaria added that he and his family have “suffered terribly” since the incident and he wants to return to routine as soon as possible.
Azaria, who has not expressed any regret for his actions, asked Eisenkot to permit him to do community service instead of serving jail time. He wrote to Eisenkot saying 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 him.”