Elor Azariya
Elor AzariyaPhoto by Avshalom Sasoni/POOL

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) expressed his confidence Friday that former IDF soldier Elor Azariya, sentenced to 18 months in prison for the shooting death of a wounded captured Arab terrorist in 2016, would be given a presidential pardon and freed.

While serving in Hevron last March, Elor Azariya shot and killed an Arab terrorist shortly after a terror attack that left one soldier wounded. The terrorist had been shot and captured rbefore Azariya opened fire.

In January, an IDF court found Azariya guilty of manslaughter, despite Azariya’s claim that he had feared that the terrorist was concealing an explosive device underneath his heavy jacket.

Azariya was subsequently sentenced to 18 months in prison, but IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot later cut the sentence to 14 months.

On Thursday, Azariya’s legal defense team announced that the former soldier had filed a request with President Reuven Rivlin for a full pardon.

Unfortunately, I did not merit a fair trial. That is how I feel and there is nothing that can change that. Anyway, I request a pardon based on mercy and kindness, which are the foundation of any pardon," Azariya wrote.

On Friday, Transportation Minister Katz said he was certain that Rivlin would grant the request.

“It’s good for a soldier to stand by his principles,” Katz told Army Radio, referring to Azariya’s refusal to express remorse for shooting the terrorist, cited as a reason the CoS did not cut the sentence by a greater number of months. “I’m sure that the president will make the right decision and free the soldier.”