'Free imprisoned IDF soldier as quickly as possible'

Deputy Defense Minister Ben Dahan calls for release of Elor Azariya, who shot wounded terrorist suspected of wearing a suicide vest.

Benny Tucker ,

Sgt. Elor Azariya
Sgt. Elor Azariya

Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan (Jewish Home) called for the release of imprisoned IDF soldier Elor Azariya.

Azariya was convicted of manslaughter in January 2017 for the shooting death of a wounded Arab terrorist suspected of wearing a suicide vest, after the Arab carried out a terror attack Hevron that left one soldier wounded during the Purim holiday in March, 2016.

In February 2017, an IDF court sentenced Azariya to 18 months in prison. That sentence was reduced, however, after Azariya’s legal defense team appealed to IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, who slashed four months from the prison sentence.

A parole hearing for Azariya was held on Wednesday, and the ruling is expected to be handed down in the coming days. The prison administration recommended his release for good behavior and Azariya himself asked that as the holiday of freedom approaches, he asks to be set free from incarcerration.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Ben Dahan said, "From my point of view, we should have shortened his sentence a while ago. Azariya was punished much more than he should have been, and even if someone thought that we need to 'educate' IDF soldiers [to think before they shoot], or - on the contrary - that soldiers would be afraid to take part in operational activities after the sentencing..it turns out that both didn't happen."

"Here, we don't shoot at terrorists when they are restrained or lying on the ground, and IDF soldiers know to be careful about that. The rules are clear. On the other hand, thankfully, we have not seen that soldiers are afraid to take part in operational activities [for fear of making a wrong move and being jailed]."

Ben Dahan also said that the IDF's operational abilities had not fallen due to the Azariya trial, so "the lesson that someone wanted us to learn from the Azariya issue was learned well, and the proper thing to do now is to release him as quickly as possible."