Former Israeli soldier Elor Azarya, convicted of manslaughter for shooting and killing a wounded Palestinian in Hebron in 2016, was released from prison for a four-day furlough for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, according to Israeli media reports.
Israel’s Channel 20 reported that Azarya was granted the furlough that started 8am this morning and that he will return to prison 9am on Sunday, according to a translation in English by Israel National News.
According to the report, Israeli soldiers are usually only granted furloughs from prison after serving a third of their sentence. Azarya began serving his 18-month sentence only last month.
The report cited Azarya’s lawyer Yoram Sheftel as saying that for “the first time since the beginning affair” – since Azarya was caught on video shooting Abd Al-Fatah Al-Sharif in the head at point-blank range – Israeli military authorities treated his client fairly, by granting the furlough.
“Let us hope that this is a swallow which heralds the arrival of Spring and a significant relief from the army’s punishment,” Sheftel reportedly said.
Azarya was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to a year and a half in prison for shooting and killing 21-year-old Al-Sharif as the unarmed Palestinian lay severely wounded on the ground in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron in March 2016.
Azarya shot Al-Sharif in the head, with a number of witnesses quoting him as saying “this dog is still alive” and “this terrorist deserves to die” before he pulled the trigger.
Over the course of the trial, Azarya received widespread support from the Israeli public and was labelled a national hero under the slogan “Israel’s son”.