The family of Elor Azariya, a former IDF sergeant convicted of manslaughter for the March 2016 shooting of a wounded Arab terrorist, expressed optimism on Wednesday during a hearing requested by the Azariya legal defense team to appeal the 18-month sentence handed down in February.

“We’re optimistic, and we expect to see a full reversal of Elor’s [sentence],” said Azariya’s parents at the opening of Wednesday’s hearing.

Attorney Yoram Sheftel, a member of Azariya’s legal defense team, said during the hearing that “Many of the Jewish people are advocating on behalf of Azariya; they’re praying for his acquittal.”

“You don’t send people to court for an operational mistake,” continued Sheftel, “otherwise the army would be unable to function.”

In January, an IDF court in Tel Aviv found Azariya guilty of manslaughter, rejecting the defense’s contention that Azariya shot the terrorist out of fear for his life and the lives of his fellow soldiers.

Azariya claimed that the terrorist appeared to be reaching for a concealed weapon, and that since no bomb squad had verified that the terrorist posed no threat, he had a legitimate concern for his safety.

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