By Andrew Friedman/TPS
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman added a request to the family not to appeal the decision further, but rather to ask IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot to pardon Elor Azaria, the IDF soldier who was convicted of manslaughter for the March, 2016 killing of a neutralized terrorist.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz also called for a pardon, with Hotovely calling on President Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin to intervene.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “My opinion hasn’t changed about pardoning Elor Azaria. When the issue is brought up for consideration, I will submit my recommendation for a pardon to the relevant officials.”
“The judgement in the Elor Azaria case demands a pardon,” Hotovely said within minutes of the decision being announced. “I have asked President Rivlin to consider it – the soldier fulfilled his duty and defended the citizens of Israel at a time of a terror attack. He deserves to be pardoned.
“At a time that Israel is still mourning the slaughter at Neve Tzuf it is important to remember who the bad guys are and who are the good guys, and that a soldier who kills a terrorist is not a criminal. This episode should be closed with a pardon quickly,” Hotovely said.
Culture Minister Miri Regev also called for a pardon, and said the move would be a fundamental expression of support for an outstanding solder.
“The outstanding soldier Elor Azaria should have been able to go home a long time ago. Now, the IDF has the authority to back him up… it is the most basic back up to give a soldier,” said Regev, who is a former IDF Spokeswoman.
On the far left side of the political spectrum, political leaders were equally quick to line up to praise the court.
“The court’s message is no less important [than the sentence itself],” said Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Galon. “The IDF will not be a militia and we will not give legitimacy to soldiers out to take revenge with a gang ethos.”
Galon added that the real damage that Azaria did to Israeli society can be managed in an atmosphere that sees murder as an act of heroism and professionalism as something to be ashamed of.
The Meretz leader also expressed full confidence that President Rivlin and Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot would not be persuaded to “sweeten” Azaria’ sentence.