A Military panel of three judges on Tuesday sentenced Sgt. Elor Azaria to 18 months in jail, a suspended additional year, and demotion to private. The decision was made with a two to one majority, with the judge in the minority pushing for a heavier sentence.
Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter in January, for shooting dead a terrorist who had stabbed an IDF soldier in Hebron and was neutralized and lying on the ground. The case, which many in Israel, including many in the media, suggested was political through and through, with the security apparatus being driven by a video of the incident, shot and disseminated by anti-Zionist NGO B’Tslem, has torn Israeli society even further apart. It was aso in the background of the dismissal of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s defense minister at the time of the shooting.
The military prosecutor was asking for three to five years as punishment for Azaria. The maximum sentence for manslaughter in Israel is 20 years.
Azaria asked for the court’s mercy.
As soon as the sentence had been given, the prosecution and the defense began haggling over when Azaria should start serving his term. The prosecution insists that he surrender to the military prison authorities next Sunday. However, the defense, stating that their appeal is ready to be heard by a higher court, requested the sentence be delayed by 15 days, until after the hearing.