Several hours after Sgt. Elor Azaria was found guilty of unlawfully killing terrorist Abed al Fatah al-Sharif last March after he had already been neutralized, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement calling for his pardon.
“This is a hard and painful day for all of us, first and foremost for Elor and his family, the soldiers of the IDF, many citizens and the parents of soldiers, myself included, ” wrote Netanyahu in a Facebook post. “I call on all Israeli citizens to act responsibly toward the IDF, its commanders and the IDF chief of staff. The soldiers of the IDF are the sons and daughters of all of us. I support pardoning Elor Azaria.”
Netanyahu had called to console Azaria’s father Charlie during his son’s trial, telling the senior Azaria “I understand your pain.” He later compared their phone conversation to the calls he makes to bereaved families of fallen soldiers, a comment that Netanyahu later apologized for.
After Azaria’s conviction was announced, Azaria’s mother Oshra yelled out “This is a rigged trial.” She then turned to one of the prosecutors in her son’s trial and told her to “Keep smiling. One day you’ll have a son, too.” Elor held his weeping mother as the left through the back exit.