Over the weekend, an Israeli activist campaigning to pardon Elor Azariya, the soldier who was convicted of manslaughter for killing a wounded Palestinian in Hebron last year, held a costume contest for children to dress as the soldier for the Jewish holiday of Purim.
Ron Karmi Buzaglu organized the costume contest over social media. “Send a picture of your children dressed as Elor Azariya and participate in the big raffle. The picture that receives the greatest number of ‘likes’ will win its owner a classical guitar and a family vacation (to the winner and his parents), courtesy of Tzahi Eliyahu of Legenda Suites,” said the announcement, according to a translation of the Hebrew text published by Arutz Sheva.
In March 2016 Elor Azaria shot at close range Palestinian Abed al Fatah al-Sharif who was lying injured on the ground after attacking a soldier and no longer posed a threat, as the court ruled in the case, when Azaria was convicted in January.
In advance of the contest, Israel’s Channel 2 interviewed Luna Dayan and her grandson. He was dressed in army fatigues in honor of Azaria.
“He took the initiative. The commanders were not at the scene, the scene was not handled as it should have been and he took charge,” Dayan said of Azaria, as reported by Haaretz.
Other Israelis circulated over social media pictures of young children donning the “Elor Azaria” costume.
After Azaria killed al-Sharif, a video of the deadly encounter emerged, filmed by a volunteer with the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. The group called the slaying an “extrajudicial street killing.”
B’Tselem went on: Al-Sharif “is seen lying on the road injured, with none of the soldiers or medics present giving him first aid or paying him any attention at all. At a certain point, a soldier is seen aiming his weapon at a-Sharif and shooting him in the head from close range, killing him. Although this occurs in the plain view of other soldiers and officers, they do not seem to take any notice.”
The shooting spurred friction within Israeli society. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly backed Azaria and called for a pardon.