Nearly two months after starting his 18-month prison sentence for killing a neutralized terrorist in Hebron last year, Elor Azaria’s punishment has been reduced to 14 months by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, who stated that along with considerations of “mercy and grace” he also took into account Azaria’s “past as an operational combat soldier.”
Elor Azaria will now face a total of 14 months imprisonment Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot sent a letter on Wednesday announcing his decision to commute Elor Azaria’s sentence after he was convicted of killing a neutralized terrorist in Hebron in March 2016. In August Azaria began serving his 18-month prison sentence. Yet, today, Eizenkot decided to shorten Azaria’s punishment by 4 months.
“It must be emphasized plainly and clearly, that in the Chief of Staff’s perspective, your conduct was unacceptable and contrary to the army’s command and the values of the IDF,” the chief of staff wrote in a letter sent to Azaria.
“The chief of staff views with great severity the failures of your actions and their diversion from the IDF’s values, as previously expressed in the court’s rulings,” Eizenkot wrote. “Also, the chief of staff is aware of the fact that you did not take responsibility, nor did you express remorse for your actions.”
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel, Flash 90/Channel 2 News
The letter states that within Eizenkot’s legal authority, when considering the soldier’s request for leniency, he decided to not only take into account mercy and grace, but also gave consideration to Azaria’s past as an operational combat soldier.
“Given these considerations, the chief of staff has decided that there is room to ease the punishment and has decided to shorten your prison sentence by four months, imposing on you a total of 14 months’ imprisonment,” Eizenkot concluded. “As stated, this does not null the important message that has been expressed throughout the hierarchy and the court rulings.”
After the initial court’s decision, Azaria’s lawyers filed an appeal, which was rejected by the Court-Martial of Appeals. In response, Azaria then appealed directly to Eizenkot with a request to ease his sentence.
Azaria commented on the decision adding, “I am sorry that the Military Prosecutor’s Office recommended against shortening my sentence, not even by one day. We must remember that our enemies have no grace and no mercy, that they are hungry for murder and full of hate.”
Azaria also referred to yesterday’s fatal terror attack in Har Adar. “The recent events illustrate how accurate this command is, when lowly murderers take the lives of Israelis only because of an ideology of hatred,” he said. “We are compassionate, we sanctify life and we seek peace – and our enemies are thirsty for Jewish blood, that is the reality.”