Elor Azariya asks President Rivlin for a full pardon

Soldier convicted in shooting death of terrorist asks President Rivlin for pardon after Chief of Staff cut Azariya’s sentence to 14 months.

Tzvi Lev ,

Elor Azariya in court
Elor Azariya in court

Jailed former IDF soldier Elor Azariya filed a petition asking President Reuven Rivlin for a full pardon on Thursday. Azariya's appeal comes after IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot cut Azariya’s sentence from 18 to 14 months in September.

Azariya was convicted of manslaughter in January for the shooting death of a wounded Arab terrorist minutes after an attack in Hevron that left one soldier wounded.

In February, an IDF court sentenced Azariya to 18 months in prison, a ruling that was upheld by the IDF Court of Appeals in July.

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

Azariya said that while he did not regret his actions, he would not have shot the injured terrorist in Hevron had he known that he was not wearing a suicide vest. "I see that everyone says I have not expressed remorse. That is inaccurate- had I known in those tense seconds that the terrorist did not have a bomb I simply would not have shot him."

"It is enough to see this from the videos from the scene," Azariya continued. "Not the edited ones from (the NGO) B'tselem, the ones taken by Israeli citizens...there were shouts that he was booby-trapped and posed a danger."

Turning to Rivlin, Azariya wrote that "my family and I have suffered enough...I'm asking you to pardon me in the fullest sense of the word, to consider it seriously and to take into account all of the circumstances and to end my stay in prison. Please return me to my family".

The President is expected to give his response within two months of the request’s submission.

Azariya was found guilty of manslaughter in January and sentenced to 18 months in prison for killing a wounded Arab terrorist in Hevron. Azariya claimed that he opened fire on the terrorist as an act of self-defense, arguing that he feared the terrorist was attempting to detonate an explosive device.

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot slashed four months off Azariya's sentence in September. Elor Azariya's defense attorney promised after the decision was announced that the jailed soldier will only serve "a few months at most in jail at most" and promised to turn to Rivlin for a further reduction of his sentence.

"Next week we will turn to the President to reduce Azariya's sentence further, and the prison commander can also shorten the remaining half. Elor will only serve a few months," Yoram Sheftel had said.