Likud MK enlists Hebron shooter Azaria to back his reelection campaign

Deputy Environment Yaron Mazuz sits beside the controversial former soldier in new video ahead of party primary on February 5

Hebron shooter Elor Azaria (left) alongside Likud MK Yaron Mazuz (Facebook video screenshot)
Hebron shooter Elor Azaria (left) alongside Likud MK Yaron Mazuz (Facebook video screenshot)

A Likud Knesset member seeking reelection in his party’s primaries has enlisted a controversial public figure to back his campaign: Elor Azaria, the former Israeli soldier who was convicted of manslaughter and imprisoned for killing an incapacitated Palestinian attacker.

In a video posted to his Facebook page on Wednesday, Deputy Environmental Protection Minister Yaron Mazuz asks for party members’ support, while seated beside Azaria.

“With God’s help along with [Azaria] we’ll succeed,” he says, shaking the ex-soldier’s hand. Azaria does not speak in the clip.

Likud’s party primaries will be held on February 5, with over 150 contenders vying for a spot on the party roster that could bring them into the next Knesset. National elections will be held on April 9, and Likud, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is currently projected to come in first with around 25-30 seats in the 120-seat legislature.

אלאור הצטרף אליי -הצטרפו גם כן.

Posted by ‎Yaron Mazuz – ירון מזוז‎ on Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Azaria served nine months of what was initially an 18-month prison term for killing Abdel-Fattah al-Sharif, a Palestinian who had stabbed an Israeli soldier and had already been subdued.

Azaria has always insisted he behaved correctly in the shooting, which was filmed, and which took place in the West Bank city of Hebron on March 24, 2016.

He maintained that he shot Sharif in the head because he believed he had a bomb hidden under his clothing and that there was a knife nearby. He said that people were screaming that someone should do something, “and I acted exactly as I had been taught since the beginning of my training as a combat soldier.”

An IDF soldier loading his weapon before he appears to shoot an apparently unarmed, prone Palestinian assailant in the head following a stabbing attack in Hebron on March 24, 2016. (Screen capture: B’Tselem)

The military court rejected all Azaria’s claims, 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.

Azaria’s 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.

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