Azariya family:
'The president could've put an end to the agony'

Family of Elor Azariya disappointed by Rivlin’s decision to deny him a presidential pardon.

Yoni Kempinski,

Elor Azariya
Elor Azariya
Avshalom Sasoni/POOL

The family of former IDF Sgt. Elor Azariya responded on Sunday to President Reuven Rivlin’s decision to deny Elor’s request for a presidential pardon.

"We received President Rivlin's decision with disappointment and regret. The president could have put an end to the terrible agony the family is going through, put an end to the argument that tears apart the people and put an end to the unnecessary imprisonment of our Elor," the family said.

The members of the family said they are convinced that there was room for greater compassion on the part of the president, adding that Elor is an "outstanding fighter who acted against a terrorist who tried to kill soldiers and civilians in Hevron."

The family was also furious that Elor's father, Charlie, heard of the president's decision via the media as he waited in the hospital for an MRI, following a deterioration in his medical condition.

"Because of the incident and its consequences, Charlie suffered a stroke a few months ago, and recently his condition deteriorated again...It is regrettable that the president's residence preferred to issue a statement to the media even before they updated the parents at the very least," the family said.

"The family will continue to work to bring about Elor's release from prison with determination and is extremely disappointed over the president's insensitivity," Elor's family clarified.

Azariya, who was released from the IDF in June after having completed his three-year mandatory service, was convicted of manslaughter in January for the shooting death of an Arab terrorist shortly after a stabbing attack in Hevron in March 2016 which left one soldier wounded.

In February, Azariya was sentenced to 18 months in prison, though on appeal, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot slashed four months from the sentence.

In refusing to grant Azariya the pardon, Rivlin any further reduction in Azariya’s sentence could “harm the resilience” of the IDF and the State of Israel.

Earlier on Sunday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that he “regretted” Rivlin’s refusal to grant clemency.

"I regret his decision to reject the request for a pardon of the soldier Elor Azariya. President Rivlin had an opportunity to put an end to this affair, which has shaken Israeli society," said Liberman.

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