Former IDF Soldier Elor Azaria has decided to abandon his renewed appeal for a lighter sentence following a military court decision earlier this week rejecting a first appeal of an 18-month jail term.
Azaria was sentenced in February this year to prison after being convicted a month earlier on a charge of manslaughter in the shooting death of an injured terrorist who had stabbed an IDF soldier.
The terrorist had already been shot and was on the ground by the time Azaria arrived on the scene of the attack in Hebron in March 2016. The second terrorist who took part in the attack had been shot and killed.
After a long tug of war with military prosecutors over the charges, and then over the sentence, Azaria decided this week after his appeal was rejected to instead send a letter to IDF Chief of General Staff, Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, requesting a pardon.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman tweeted after the court decision on Sunday, “I ask the Azaria family not to file an additional appeal, but rather to appeal to the Chief of Staff for a pardon. I have no doubt that the chief of staff will take into account all the difficult circumstances and that he (Elor) was an outstanding soldier.”
Eizenkot added in a statement that evening that he would “seriously consider” any appeal Azaria filed.
The former soldier is requesting that Eizenkot substitute mandatory community service for the prison term. In his letter, he states that had he known there was no bomb on the terrorist, he “would not have shot” him. He adds that he does not intend to file an appeal in the Supreme Court.
“It is my desire to return to normal life and rehabilitate my life and those of my family [members] in order to repair the fragments,” the letter continues.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also weighed in, saying that he too supports a pardon.
Azaria, who was released from mandatory service last week, is currently staying at his parents’ home in Ramle on full house arrest, until next week.