'People close to Azariya torpedoed his pardon'

Leading activist in campaign to free Elor Azariya says deal to pardon soldier was close but ultimately shelved in a fight over credit.

Eliran Aharon ,

Elor Azariya at the military court
Elor Azariya at the military court
Yoni Kempinski

Roni Shabtai, chairman of the Magen Israel movement and one of the most prominent activists in the campaign to free Elor Azariya, told Arutz Sheva that "interested parties" in Azariya's environment torpedoed a government minister's initiative to pardon him.

"The entrance of the soldier, Elor Azariya, into prison discredits the Israeli government headed by the Likud. It discredits Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who scored political capital on Elor's back and then abandoned him on the battlefield as the previous defense minister did," said Shabtai.

He said that Liberman supported Azariya and his family during the trial, but only until he was appointed Defense Minister. "The defense minister was on our side until he got the desired job, and the moment he got the job, betrayed Elor just as the previous defense minister betrayed him. Today there is no one guarding the soldiers' backs."

Shabtai claimed that a move to pardon Azariya was thwarted but did not specify why. "Last week there was an attempt by a senior minister in the government to obtain a pardon for Elor Azariya before he went to prison, but interested parties close to Azariya torpedoed the agreement because of fights over ego and credit. I don't want to name names."