Elor Azaria released from prison after 9 months
Azaria, who was convicted of manslaughter after shooting dead a neutralized terrorist in Hebron, was freed two days early so he could attend his brother's wedding on Wednesday; Netanyahu: 'Happy this event has come to an end'; Azaria's mother: 'can't explain the joy I'm in. My child is home.'
Former IDF soldier Elor Azaria, who was convicted of manslaughter after shooting dead a neutralized terrorist in Hebron, was released from prison after serving a nine-months sentence on Tuesday morning, two days early.
Azaria, whose original release date was May 10, asked to be released two days early so he could attend his brother's wedding on Wednesday.
Commanders at Prison 4 in Tzrifin decided to grant his request after he met the terms that allow early release under such circumstances.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was asked by reporters about the release before leaving for a short trip to Cyprus, said, "I'm glad this event has come to an end."
In March, the military parole board decided to grant Azaria's request to cut a third of his 14-month sentence. He was initially sentenced to 18 months, but IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot granted his request and cut four months from his jail time.
Azaria was convicted of manslaughter in February 2017 after shooting dead Abed al Fatah a-Sharif, who was shot and seriously wounded after stabbing an IDF soldier in Hebron. Azaria, who arrived at the scene after the incident had already ended, shot the terrorist in the head 11 minutes after the attack.
In his conviction, the judges determined that “There was no justification for the shooting. The fact that there was a terrorist on the ground who sought to take the lives of soldiers did not justify disproportionate action. Azaria’s shooting was inconsistent with the rules of opening fire.”
Friends and supporters put up large signs outside his home on Monday evening saying "It's so good to have you home. Elor, the soldier of all of us."
His mother, Oshra, said Tuesday morning that she "can't explain the joy I'm in. My child is home."
In an interview with journalist Sharon Gal, Oshra said she was surprised to learn of her son's two-day early release. "I got a phone call that he was on his way home. I ran down the stairs and all of a sudden I see him come in."
His father, Charlie, added that "It's unbelievable. I didn't feel like after giving birth, but I was told it feels like after giving birth."
Azaria's brother Adir, the one who is getting married on Wednesday, welcomed him home on Facebook, writing "Welcome back, my dear brother."
His sister Etti also wrote on Facebook: "We're waiting for you at home with great anticipation, looking forward to 'reattaching' your wings. My dearest brother, just a little bit longer, my heart and soul. Just a bit. Stay strong as you have been over the past two years and two months, my love."