Netanyahu wants pardon for Israeli soldier convicted of killing wounded Palestinian
On Wednesday, news broke that Elor Azaria, a Sergeant in the IDF, had been convicted of manslaughter for the killing of a wounded and unconscious 20-year-old Palestinian named Abdul Fatah al-Sharif who’d attacked an Israeli soldier with a knife. Now Prime Minister Netanyahu has called for President Rivlin to pardon Azaria.
In a statement released Wednesday evening, Netanyahu said IDF soldiers must “remain above all conflict” (including, apparently, the one they are currently fighting), and therefore Azaria should be pardoned for his crime.
Via Times of Israel:
“This is a hard and painful day for us all — first and foremost for Elor and his family, for IDF soldiers, for many citizens, and for the parents of our soldiers, myself included,” the prime minister wrote.
“I urge all citizens to act responsibly toward the IDF, the officers, and the IDF chief… IDF soldiers are our sons and daughters, and they must remain above all conflict. I support pardoning Elor Azaria.”
Several other government officials have issued similar statements.
It should be noted that Netanyahu cannot pardon Azaria on his own. That power rests with President Reuven Rivlin, who issued the following non-committal response:
“In accordance with standard practice regarding requests for pardons on this or any case, requests for pardons are dealt with when submitted by the applicant themselves, or by one with power of attorney, or an immediate relative, following a conclusive judicial ruling.
In light of the foregoing, and in relation to the case of the soldier Elor Azaria, in the event that a pardon should be requested, it will be considered by the president in accordance with standard practices and after recommendations from the relevant authorities.”
It remains to be seen whether or not Netanyahu and allies will be able to pressure President Rivlin into issuing the pardon, when Azaria inevitably applies for one. In the meantime, please mull over the fact that a substantial contingent of the Israeli government thinks it’s fine for a soldier to execute an unconscious person with a bullet to the head in flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention.