Published: Mon, November 20, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Israel denies pardon for soldier who killed wounded attacker

Israel denies pardon for soldier who killed wounded attacker

JERUSALEM --Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has turned down a request for a pardon by Elor Azaria, the IDF soldier now serving an 18-month sentence for the March, 2016 killing of a subdued terrorist in Hebron.

He was sentenced to 18 months in prison and had his sentenced reduced by four months by the Israeli army chief Gadi Eizenkot.

Azaria said he shot Abd Elfatah Ashareef because he feared the Palestinian could carry out another attack, but a court-martial found contradictions in the testimony and convicted him of manslaughter.

"President Reuven Rivlin today took the decision to deny the request for pardon filed by Elor Azaria", his office said in a statement, one month after the jailed soldier submitted his request.

Elor Azaria was an army medic in March 2016 when he was videotaped by human rights organization Betselem shooting Fatah al-Sharif, who was already incapacitated after attempting to stab Israeli soldiers. Al-Sharif had sustained injuries after stabbing and mortally wounding a soldier in the West Bank city of Hebron. Under Israeli law, manslaughter can carry a maximum 20 years behind bars.

Rights group Amnesty International said Azaria's sentence does "not reflect the gravity of the offence", while the United Nations human rights office said it was an "unacceptable" punishment for "an apparent extra-judicial killing".

The written reply to the pardon application, quoted in Sunday's statement, says that Rivlin noted Eisenkot's clemency and the court's "lenient" sentence.

Populist lawmaker Oren Hazan of the ruling Likud party - the same Rivlin was a member of in parliament and later as a minister - called on Rivlin to resign, and said pardoning authority should move from the presidency to the parliament.

"The opportunity arose to put an end to this affair, which rocked Israeli society", Liberman said.

Last year's shooting deeply divided Israel and led to an extraordinary rift between right-wing politicians who wanted to see Azaria released and top military brass, who harshly condemned his actions.

Israelis flooded social media with anger at the decision and insults against Rivlin; the president was termed a "damned Nazi", "piece of trash" and "filthy traitor".

In July, an appeal over Azaria's sentence was rejected by an Israeli military court.

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