After nine months in prison, Elor Azaria was released on Tuesday morning. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other politicians welcomed the Hebron shooter’s release.
Azaria arriving to begin his sentence in August 2017 Photo Credit: Flash 90
Elor Azaria, the former IDF soldier who was convicted of manslaughter for fatally shooting a neutralized terrorist in Hebron in March 2016, was released from prison on Tuesday morning after serving two-thirds of his sentence. Azaria, dubbed the “Hebron shooter,” began serving his original sentence of 18 months in August 2017. However, about a month later, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot reduced the sentence by four months.
In March, after Israeli President Reuven Rivlin denied Azaria’s clemency request, the IDF Parole Board decided to shorten Elor Azaria’s sentence by a third, setting the release date for May 10. However, Azaria asked to be released today so that he could attend his brother’s wedding on Wednesday, and IDF officials approved his request.
Moments before departing for Cyprus, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Azaria’s release, saying that he is “glad that this thing is over.” Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz called for Azaria’s criminal record to be erased so that he can “integrate into civilian life.”
Azaria’s sister, Eti, posted a family photo from this morning on Facebook. “My family is reunited,” she wrote in the post. “There’s no greater joy.” In the picture, Azaria and his family are seen in their home in Ramla wearing shirts that were custom-made for the occasion of his release.
While Azaria was serving his sentence, several Israeli MKs and ministers voiced their support for his early release. In September 2017, Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Welfare Minister Haim Katz and Minister of Interior Arie Deri signed a petition requesting that Rivlin reconsider his decision to deny Azaria’s clemency request.