Israeli Army Chief Cuts Hebron Shooter's Sentence by Four Months

Sgt. Elor Azaria was convicted of killing a subdued Palestinian assailant in a trial that divided Israel

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Sgt. Elor Azaria entering military prison after he was sentenced to 18 months for manslaughter, August, 2017.
Sgt. Elor Azaria entering military prison after he was sentenced to 18 months for manslaughter, August, 2017.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Amos Harel
Amos Harel

Israel's military chief on Wednesday shortened the prison sentence of Sgt. Elor Azaria, who shot and killed a subdued Palestinian attacker in Hebron. Azaria will now serve 14 months instead of 18 months.

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot informed Azaria's attorneys by letter on Wednesday regarding the reduced sentence. Eisenkot noted that the fact that Azaria did not express regret over killing the attacker, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, influenced his decision. The military advocate general opposed reducing Azaria's sentence.

Assuming Azaria gets one-third of his sentence off for good behavior, he could be released as early as March 30, 2018. If not, he would serve until September 30 of next year.

Azaira was convicted in January for killing a subdued Palestinian attacker who had been seriously wounded after perpetuating an attack in Hebron in March 2016. The Central Command's military court sentenced him to 18 months imprisonment, and the military appeals court rejected the appeal of his conviction as well as the severity for his sentence. He began serving his sentence in August. 

Eisenkot wrote in his decision that he did take into consideration the fact that Azaria was a fighter in a combat unit. Before issuing his decision, he had consulted with a host of generals on the General Staff, as well as senior reserve officers and legal experts. The military advocate general, Gen. Sharon Afek, submitted a document to Eisenkot expressing his absolute opposition to reducing Azaria's sentence under the current circumstances.

Yousef Jabareen, a member of Knesset from the Joint List faction, strongly condemned Eisenkot's "outrageously unreasonable decision," saying, "Azaria's original punishment did not reflect the gravity of the act from the start, and its shortening now conveys a difficult message that Palestinian blood is expendable."

Jabareen added that shortening Azaria's sentence "constitutes contempt for the court and clearly shows capitulation to political pressure on the part of the prime minister and his ministers."

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