Hebron shooter seeks to delay prison entry until ruling from army chief
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Hebron shooter seeks to delay prison entry until ruling from army chief

Elor Azaria’s request comes three days after he petitioned Gadi Eisenkot for leniency on his 18-month manslaughter sentence

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

Elor Azaria in a live online broadcast, his first public comments about his trial and sentencing, on August 3, 2017. (Facebook)
Elor Azaria in a live online broadcast, his first public comments about his trial and sentencing, on August 3, 2017. (Facebook)

A former IDF soldier convicted of manslaughter for killing a disarmed Palestinian assailant requested on Sunday that his entry to prison be delayed until after the IDF chief of staff rules on whether to commute his sentence.

Elor Azaria’s attorneys submitted the official request to the Military Court of Appeals three days after the former private asked army chief Gadi Eisenkot to commute or shorten his 18-month sentence.

In that same letter to Eisenkot on Thursday, Azaria declared that he would not be seeking to appeal his conviction to the Supreme Court.

Azaria was prosecuted after a video showed him shooting to death Abdel Fattah al-Sharif in the West Bank city of Hebron in March 2016, approximately 11 minutes after the Palestinian assailant had been shot, injured and disarmed while trying to stab two soldiers.

On July 30, Azaria’s conviction and sentence were upheld by a military court, which dismissed his testimony that he’d feared for his life, citing his nonchalance in the moments before he opened fire and killed Sharif.

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot speaks with new recruits to the army's Golani Brigade at the Tel Hashomer base on July 23, 2017. (Flash90)
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot speaks with new recruits to the army’s Golani Brigade at the Tel Hashomer base on July 23, 2017. (Flash90)

Shortly after the appeals court’s verdict, Eisenkot said in a statement that he would seriously consider a request for leniency from Azaria. However, a senior military source later clarified that that would only be an option if Azaria expressed “real” remorse for his actions, something Azaria had not done up until that point.

Such contrition was absent from his first-ever public statement, which he posted as a video to Facebook last Thursday. “I promise you that I acted out of a sense of immediate danger at the scene of the attack. But the court gave its ruling, and we live in a nation of laws. So I’m going to serve the prison sentence handed down, in the hope that it will be reduced,” he said.

Eisenkot has in the past expressed criticism of a public perception of Azaria as “everybody’s child.” He also said the case was rife with “manipulations and lies.”

Azaria is set to enter Prison Four in Tzrifin base in central Israel on Wednesday at 10 a.m.

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