Elor Azaria, the IDF soldier convicted of manslaughter for killing an unarmed terrorist, has been sentenced to a year and a half in jail. He will serve the sentence in a military prison. He was also reduced in rank from Sergeant to Private, and received an additional suspended sentence.
The defense has already announced it intends appealing the conviction to the Supreme Court, and has requested a stay of sentence until the appeal has been heard. The prosecution, which had requested a 3-5 year sentence, has objected, and demanded he immediately begin serving the sentence. It told the court it was considering appealing what it regards as unwarranted leniency. The maximum sentence is 20 years.
Azaria was convicted by a military court on January 4. He had been indicted on manslaughter charges.
The incident leading to his prosecution took place on the 20th of March last year. Azaria, a medic who until then had an exemplary record, was part of a force stationed in Hebron that was ordered to the scene of a terrorist attack in the city. Two terrorists had attacked a group of soldiers with knives, injuring some of them.
Azaria, together with several other soldiers, arrived at the scene about 10 minutes after the attack. They were ordered to close off the area until ambulances arrived. One of the terrorists, who had been effectively neutralized, lay semi-conscious and unarmed on the road. Azaria approached him, and from close range shot him in the head, killing him.
Unknown to the soldiers, the entire incident had been videoed by a passerby on a smart phone. The video went public, causing a massive controversy.
Moshe Ya’alon, who was then still Defense Minister, voiced his outrage at what he regarded as a gross breach of military discipline and of the IDF’s ethical code. This caused a rift between him and the prime minister, and was one of the reasons Benjamin Netanyahu decided to replace him with Avigdor Lieberman.