A former Israeli soldier who was convicted of manslaughter and went to prison for killing an incapacitated Palestinian attacker was recently denied a gun license, a report Tuesday said.
According to the Ynet news website, Israel Police said Elor Azaria did not meet the criteria to carry a firearm and said he could pose a threat to public safety.
Azaria had applied for permission to own a gun claiming threats had been made against him due to the 2016 Hebron shooting incident.
Gun licenses are strictly controlled in Israel and are usually only granted to those who can show they have a real need for personal protection.
Azarea’s circumstances “don’t meet the criteria that enable granting a firearms license,” police said, according to the report. Officials said they had looked into Azaria’s claims and had not found any credible threat to him.
Azaria said in response the denial was “another stab in the back and spit in the face…After everything I have given and endured for the sake of the security of our country, (this ordeal) hurts and is tearing me up from the inside.”
The firearms department at the Public Security Ministry is the body responsible for issuing gun licenses in Israel.The department seeks input from police and the Health Ministry as well as other parties concerning each case.
Police usually become involved in gun license requests when they deem the would-be carrier a threat to the public, citing an existing criminal record or other reasons. Alternatively, police can recommend that a person be granted a license to carry a gun due to specific circumstances, usually threats to their person.
A few months ago MK Nava Boker (Likud) asked that Azaria be granted a license because of alleged threats against him. In a letter to Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Boker said Azaria and his family had been “facing threats and harassment for two years” including a picture “posted on Facebook showing a pistol held against Elor’s head.”
Azaria then put in a request to Public Security Ministry but was denied.
Azaria was released in May after serving nine months of what was initially an 18-month prison term for killing Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, a Palestinian who had earlier stabbed an Israeli soldier and had already been shot and subdued.
The incident, which was filmed, took place in the West Bank city of Hebron on March 24, 2016.
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot later shortened the sentence by four months.
Azaria began serving his term on August 9.
Azaria has never expressed remorse for his actions. He has maintained that he opened fire because he believed Sharif had a bomb hidden under his clothes. A military court, however, dismissed that claim, citing the soldier’s nonchalance in the moments before he killed Sharif, and his statements to fellow soldiers that the assailant deserved to die for attacking his comrades.
The Hebron shooter case revealed deep divisions in Israeli society over the army’s activities in the West Bank, with some — mostly on the right — arguing that he had behaved heroically in killing the Palestinian assailant, while others said he had broken the law and deserved a harsher sentence than he received.