An IDF soldier convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead a wounded Palestinian assailant will reportedly be released to house arrest when his mandatory army service ends on Thursday.
Elor Azaria has been confined to base since shortly after the March 24, 2016, incident. The year-plus he spent on base will not count toward his 18-month sentence, but nine days he spent in jail immediately after the killing will be deducted from his prison term, judges ruled.
Upon his expected release to house arrest, Azaria will be confined to his parents’ home in the central city of Ramle until a military court rules on appeals filed by both the defense and military prosecutors, the Ynet news site reported Sunday.
It was not clear under what conditions Azaria would be sent to house arrest; the judges are expected to rule on this on Monday.
Earlier this year, Azaria was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 18 months in prison for shooting dead a Palestinian attacker who had 11 minutes previously stabbed an IDF soldier in the West Bank city of Hebron and was lying on the ground disarmed and injured.
Both the defense team and the prosecution filed appeals on the case, with Azaria’s attorneys seeking to get the conviction overturned entirely and the prosecutors trying to get the soldier a harsher punishment.
Azaria’s attorneys, led by Yoram Sheftel, contended that the prosecution lacked key evidence and that the military was arbitrarily applying the law, as other soldiers had not been tried under similar circumstances
Meanwhile, the prosecutors, led by Lt. Col. (res.) Nadav Weissman, claimed Azaria’s 18-month sentence was insufficient in relation to the severity of his crime.
After hearing both sides’ arguments through the month of May, the military appellate court encouraged the prosecution and defense to “rise above” the enmity and attempt out-of-court mediation in order to resolve the case. Weissman initially refused, but eventually acquiesced.
In June, IDF chief prosecutor Col. Sharon Zagagi Pinchas oversaw a meeting between Weissman and lead defense attorney Sheftel as part of the court mandated mediation efforts, the army said in a statement
But the mediation failed.
No date has been set for the court to render its decision in the divisive case, which has revealed deep rifts in Israeli society.
The army’s appellate court in Tel Aviv is led by a panel of three military judges, a major general and a brigadier general.
The appeal hearings have at times been acrimonious, with the two sides trading barbs and, at times, raising their voices, but sources said the June meeting was to the point and professional, despite being ultimately unhelpful.
While this is not the first time an IDF soldier has been convicted of manslaughter, it is an exceedingly rare occurrence, as most cases are settled through a plea deal in order to avoid a trial. The few cases in which IDF soldiers have been found guilty were under completely different circumstances, giving judges little in the way of precedent to determine sentencing.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.