Azaria's father delivers emotional plea to the judges
In a final bid to convince the judges to lighten the sentence against his son, Charlie Azaria, weeping before the judges, described his son's innate kindness, lamented the physical toll the trial has taken on his family: 'My son has been abandoned.'
Entering the courtroom accompanied by a security detail, the prosecutor, Lieutenant Colonel Nadav Weisman was greeted by the shouts of “Our soldier is innocent!”
One by one, witnesses were called to the dock by the defense team to plead with the judges to lighten the sentence due to be handed down to Azaria.
Charlie Azaria, Elor’s father, was first to deliver his emotional plea on behalf of his son. “We moved to Israel in 1975 from France. My father fought in the Second World War against the Nazis, liberated Paris, participated in Normandy and had the courage and strength not to leave his commander in wounded in the field,” he began.
“My older brother served 30 years in the army, I served 33 years as a police officer in Ramla and in the Lahav 433 investigative police unit while my other brother served in Israeli prisons. I educated my children to respect every human being regardless of their skin color or religion. In Ramla, all my Muslim neighbors respect me and I respect them.”
Turning to his son, Charlie said that he lived up to his name, (meaning light). “He radiates light wherever he is. He was a chubby boy but insisted on being in a combat unit. He ran in the rain so that he could serve in a combat unit, so that he could defend the state,” Charlie said as he continued in his attempt to strike an emotional chord with the judges.
“Elor knew only how to give. He has Muslim and Christian friends. Elor enrolled on the paramedics course because he was so outstanding and despite the fact that he was a platoon paramedic he went to protect his friends even though he was not required to do so. I saw Elor lose all happiness in his life in his service as a platoon paramedic. I realized that he had a problem with his commander. Elor told me two days before the incident: ‘It is becoming increasingly difficult, dad. They are giving me more and more assignments and coming to me with complaints.’”
Recalling an incident in which his son was left for 12 hours without food or water while guarding an arrested suspect, Charlie sought to describe his Elor’s innate kindness. “In the end they brought him food in a disposable tray and he decided to give it to the terrorist.”
He also elaborated on the physical toll the entire episode has taken both his, and his wife’s life. “My wife dropped to 36kg in weight since the incident. I have had a stroke and lost my ability to walk and stand for three months. Our family has collapsed. My brother—Elor’s Godfather—had a heart attack twice. One of my two daughters stopped her medical studies in order to help out at home. It has been ten months and not a single commander has spoken to me. They simply neglected my son.”