Azaria sentenced to 18 months in prison; Sentence will begin on March 5

The Kirya military court sentenced Elor Azaria to 18 months in prison today after he was convicted of manslaughter last month. The judges explained that they took into account the soldier’s good behavior after the incident and the fact that he does not have a criminal record.
Elor Azaria in court, today Photo Credit: EPA

Elor Azaria was sentenced today (Tuesday) to 18 months in prison. Last month, the IDF soldier was convicted of manslaughter for fatally shooting a neutralized terrorist in Hebron almost a year ago. In addition, the military court at the Kirya handed down a sentence of another year in prison if Azaria is convicted of the same crime again. Azaria’s lawyers requested that his 18-month sentence be suspended. The court ruled that he will begin serving his sentence on March 5.

Judge Maya Heller, who was the head of the judicial panel in the high-profile case, said that the reasonable punishment for such a crime is between 18 and 48 months (a year and a half to four years) in prison. However, there was a disagreement among the judges in regard to the punishment. She stated that one of the judges demanded that Azaria be sentenced to between 30 and 60 months in prison. In addition, Heller said that it was important to take into consideration Azaria’s young age and good behavior during his 10-month arrest prior to the sentencing and the fact that he does not have a criminal record.

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Heller said that in the end, the judges agreed that Azaria should not serve the maximum sentence. She said that the judicial panel examined “all the circumstances, his positive personality and the damage that has been caused to the defendant and his family” and decided to sentence him to 18 months in prison and to comply with the prosecution’s request that his 10 months of house arrest not be deducted from the sentence.

“The actions of the defendant harmed several social and moral values,” stated Heller. “The defendant carried out the act with the intent to take a life but we could not ignore the operational circumstances.”

Azaria arrived at the military court today with his family and was greeted with a round of applause when he entered the courtroom. About 150 police officers were positioned outside the courthouse, prepared for expected clashes. “Even though they are trying to portray us as criminals, we will politely accept the sentence and maintain restraint,” said the soldier’s father before entering the courtroom today.

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