JERUSALEM (JTA) — The former Israeli soldier convicted of shooting and killing an injured Palestinian terrorist as he lay on the ground was released from prison after nine months.
Elor Azaria’s 14-month sentence was reduced by one-third in March. He left the military prison on Tuesday. He had been scheduled to leave on Thursday but was granted permission to bring his exit date forward by two days in order to attend his brother’s wedding.
He was greeted at his family’s home in Ramle by supporters and a sign reading: “How good that you came home Elor, the soldier of all of us.”
A medic in the elite Kfir Brigade, Azaria came on the scene following a Palestinian stabbing attack on soldiers in the West Bank city of Hebron on March 24, 2016. One assailant was killed and another, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, was injured.
Minutes later, while Sharif was lying on the ground, Azaria shot him in the head. The shooting was captured on video by a local affiliate of the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.
Azaria was arrested that day and indicted nearly a month later. Autopsy reports showed that the shots fired by Azaria killed Sharif. Prior to shooting Sharif, Azaria had cared for a stabbed soldier.
Pardon requests were denied by Israeli army’s chief of staff, Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, and by President Reuven Rivlin.
The case divided Israeli society on the issues of the Palestinians and the military.