Israeli soldier-medic-killer ‘endured a lot’ –  so short sentence is cut by four months

A Palestinian holds a poster of Israeli Sergeant Elor Azaria that reads "wanted" who killed the Palestinian Abdel Fattah al-Sharif during a protest in the West Bank city of Hebron on January 4, 2017. (Photo: Wisam Hashlamoun)

Elor Azarya had “endured a lot”, said an Israeli military spokesman, announcing Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot’s decision to cut four months off the soldier-medic’s already lenient 18-month sentence for killing a wounded, immobile Palestinian alleged attacker by a bullet to the head at point blank on the street in Hebron in 2016.   

There is no end to Jewish victimhood. He’s after all “everyone’s child,” a claim Benjamin Netanyahu echoed

Azarya had only begun to serve his sentence last month, and last week he got a furlough for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new-year– an unusual move that early in the sentence. As Israel National News noted, “soldiers are usually only granted furloughs from prison after serving a third of their sentence”. 

Azarya’s attorney Yoram Sheftel was hopeful:

“Let us hope that this is a swallow which heralds the arrival of Spring and a significant relief from the army’s punishment”, he said.

But the Jewish holiday season is not over. Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, comes tomorrow, and the Chief of Staff has perhaps felt he needed to atone for his own sins, in that he first said that Azarya had “erred”, and then that Azarya was “not everyone’s child”.

What a traitor! I mean, politicians from right and left (including Labor’s Shelly Yachimovitch) were standing in line to demand the complete pardon of Azarya in the immediate wake of his verdict (even before a sentence was handed down).

So Eisonkot gave Azarya a belated Rosh Hashanah gift, maybe an early Yom Kippur forgiveness. Eisenkot even noted that the fact that Azarya did not express regret over killing the attacker, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, influenced his decision. That is – he would have offered him more, had he but expressed regret.

But like spoiled children, who have to get gifts no matter how badly they behave, Azarya just had to get this gift, already now – but he is ‘punished’ by getting a smaller gift than he would otherwise have gotten had he but ‘expressed regret’.

This is only the beginning. Amos Harel assesses in Haaretz:

“Assuming Azaria gets one-third of his sentence off for good behavior, he could be released as early as March 30, 2018. If not, he would serve until September 30 of next year.”

That is, in the worst case, Azarya will be out by the end of next years’ Sukkot holiday (the Feast of Tabernacles), following Yom Kippur. But there’s a good chance he will actually be out before next Passover, like a “swallow that heralds the arrival of spring”, as attorney Sheftel puts it.

I suppose they’ll then add a bit into the Passover Haggadah (the traditional reading), where in addition to commemorating liberation from Egyptian slavery, one would celebrate Elor Azarya’s liberation from prison. Because we have all “endured a lot”, and Azarya is “paying for us all”.