Azariya with his mother in court
Azariya with his mother in court Yoni Kempinski

Education Minister Naftali Bennett responded to the 18-month jail sentence handed down to Elor Azariya Tuesday and demanded that he be pardoned.

"The security of the citizens of Israel requires an immediate pardon for Elor Azariya. Elor was sent to protect the citizens of Israel in the midst of a wave of murderous knifing attacks by Palestinians and the whole investigative procedure was tainted from its inception. Even if he made a mistake, Azariya should not go to jail. We will all pay the price," said Bennett.

Transport Minister Yisrael Katz concurred and said: "The court has had its say - the judicial process has been concluded, Now is the time for a pardon, to bring Elor back home."

Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev (Likud) said that "this is a sad day. A harsh sentence. Elor should not have had to sit one more day in jail beyond what he has already sat. This is unfortunately a continuation of the kangaroo court which he suffered from earlier."

"As I said before the ruling and as the IDF commanders testified, this event should not have reached the court as a criminal procedure. He should have been taken for disciplinary action within his unit. Since we have reached this difficult day, I want to ask the Chief of Staff to recommend pardoning Elor Azariya," said Regev.

Minister and General (res.) Yoav Galant also sent a request after the sentence to Defense Minister Liberman and Chief of Staff Eizenkot requesting that they immediately pardon Azariya.

"Just as we return wounded soldiers and those who have fallen into captivity, we should also endeavor to restore those who made mistakes, even if they were serious and dramatic mistakes. Azariya's conduct was wrong from the outset. IDF commanders should teach soldiers about the incident and emphasize its serious implications. Despite this, we must remember: a soldier who erred is our soldier."

Numerous other politicians called for a pardon for Azariya. However there were politicians who called for respecting the court's decision and not pardoning Azariya.

MK Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) said that "the sentence of Azariya should be the endpoint of this painful matter. Politicians should stop trying to gain popularity through Azariya and his family, threatening the values of the IDF and the ability of its commanders to lead it."

"Nobody is happy to see Elor going to jail, despite the fact that he did an act which should not have been done. However, immediate pardon would make a mockery of the commanding and judicial echelons of the army," said Shelah.

Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid) called on politicians to stop dealing with the matter. "If somebody thinks that the sentence will affect the behavior of combat soldiers, he doesn't know what a combat situation involves. I call on my friends the politicians to stop discussing this matter."

Aliza Lavie, another Yesh Atid MK, disagreed with her compatriots and felt that Azariya deserved to be pardoned. However, Opposition leader Isaac Herzog claimed that the sentence was fair and reflected both understanding of the soldier's predicament and maintenance of the values of "purity of arms" in the IDF.