Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman is urging Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to pardon Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, who shot dead a wounded Palestinian youth in Hebron last year.
“We must put an end to the affair that shook Israeli society, and at this time show leniency and mercy to the soldier,” Ynet News reported Lieberman writing in his pardon recommendation to Rivlin.
“Mr President, few are the affairs in which the matters of one person mirror the entire Israeli society like the case before us. Israeli society faced a test in this affair that demonstrates, perhaps more than any other incident in recent years, the rifts and divisions among it,” he added.
He continued: “I was among the many who believed that in light of the circumstances, it was unsuitable to charge the soldier with a criminal offence. This case is about an excelling soldier and a terrorist who had the intention to kill.”
Lieberman said in his letter that Israel has to mend a social rift: “We send our sons and daughters to defend state security and the public peace, putting them in complex situations the likes of which don’t exist anywhere in the world, and demand of them — and we will continue doing so — to act courageously, with determination, professionally and morally.”
“I believe pardoning Elor Azaria will not detract from these demands, and create the right balance between the immense importance of the rule of law and the public and personal considerations concerning this matter.”
The Israeli soldier, who killed the wounded Palestinian, has submitted an official pardon request, claiming he did not have a “just trial”. He said: “I unfortunately did not receive a just trial… I ask for a measure of justice and mercy.”
Azaria was sentenced to 18 months in a military prison, which was reduced last month to 14 months. The military parole board is expected to cut his sentence by a third based on good behaviour.
It also said that that if Rivlin – who said he would examine all opinions and case material submitted to him and would discuss the issue with professionals – pardoned the soldier, he would be released from prison within several months.