Guilty Verdict Handed Down in the Manslaughter Trial of Sgt. Elor Azariya

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download11:35AM IL: A verdict of guilty has been handed down in the manslaughter trial of IDF Sgt. Elor Azariya. The verdict was announced by the IDF military court in the Kirya (Defense Ministry) moments ago. The trial lasted for nine months and over 50 defense witnesses were heard.

In her opening statements, leading justice Colonel Maya Heller stated it was Azariya firing at the terrorist Fatah al-Sharif at close range that killed him, rejecting the main witnesses presented by the defense, including pathologist Prof. Yehuda Hiss, who stated the terrorist was dead before Azariya fired at him. Colonel Heller added that his opening fire at the terrorist was contrary to open-fire orders.

Heller points out that he fired at the terrorist, at close range and there is no controversy surrounding these facts after hearing from all involved. The court determined the terrorist was not killed by the gunfire which neutralized him by the first soldier but by Elor’s gunfire, rejecting the defense’s expert witnesses and their testimony to the contrary. Heller added that Hiss based his testimony on that of Prof. Shimoni and the moment the latter’s testimony was rejected, it invalidated the statements made by Hiss as well.

The court then reviewed all the video footage to determine if Elor felt threatened as he explained to be the case based on his subjective evaluation of the situation. The court however feels this was not the case and he did not feel that he was in life-threatening danger as he later stated to have been the case.

The court rejected statements made by Elor during the trial that his claimed to colleagues immediately following the shooting that it was an “act of revenge”, explaining during his testimony it is not what he meant and his words were taken out of context. The court does not believe he felt a life-threatening danger when he fired at the terrorist as he later reported to be the case.

Heller added “however, the court cannot turn back the clock and really know what went through his head and must rely on the statements made and the testimony given to the court”. His company commander spoke with him immediately following the shooting and T.M. was witness and there was much contradiction between his statements to the commander and other commanders later in the investigation. The statements from the company commander were in line with the videos taken at the scene.

The court finds Elor Azariya guilty of manslaughter as charged. The sentencing hearing will follow in the coming weeks.

The court ruled “he acted out of revenge and this is not self-defense”.

Reading of the verdict continued for over two hours but it became clear relatively early on that the verdict was one of guilty. Hundreds of police are outside the courthouse on Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv trying to maintain order as hundreds of protestors try to shut down the major vehicular thoroughfare. Arrests are being made and hundreds of police including Yassam commandos are trying to maintain order. Protestors have succeeded in blocking Kaplan Street for brief periods.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)




23 COMMENTS

  1. This is shocking and disturbing on so many levels. He is a hero! The Israeli court system is a farce, and they have now put every one of their soldiers in the impossible position of trying to defend the country, often at split-second notice, while also needing to stop and consider the potential outcome of the act of defense. Hopefully this can be appealed!

  2. It’s really sad but I think the court is correct. If it is true that the soldier felt no threat from the downed terrorist, then unfortunately I would have to say he’s guilty. As much as I believe that terrorists deserve to die, soldiers can not be empowered to issue extrajudicial death penalties. The soldier cannot serve as the judge, jury, and executioner in the field… chaos would ensue. And maybe I’m just being naive, but I trust that the courts issued an impartial and truthful verdict and that they are not simply making an example out of this soldier and throwing him to the wolves.

  3. Didn’t expect otherwise from the rotten Israeli justice system.
    Let these imbecile judges spend one day as a combat soldier facing terrorists and we’ll see how they fare…

  4. The dead man, the enemy, had not been neutralised to satisfy the proper safety concerns and requirements of the IDF.
    As the dead man had not been handcuffed, he was definitely a danger, and it was the soldier who shot him who acted correctly, as it was too dangerous for any Jewish soldier to approach the dead man to handcuff him, for an explosion could have occurred as the dead man could have been carrying explosives.

    So it does not matter the motives of the accused soldier, for he was the only person who instinctively felt the danger, ad he is a hero. He is not only innocent but he is a true hero, making a very quick decision to protect the other Jewish soldiers

    He is perfectly innocent.

    The judge should reconsider.

  5. Shame and stain on the country! More fuel for anti Israel/anti Semitic discourse throughout the world. Well done the foolish left leaning courts. Who would want their child to serve on the army now.? Certainly not me now I know there are enemies within as well as outside.

  6. terrible!! no words. poor poor guy. He is INNOCENT. The laws about firing a terrorist are insane. You can’t make such complicated decisions on spot.

  7. Liberalism is a mental disease ,there is no other answer to this atrocious verdict in Nyc you get shot if you point a water gun on a police!

  8. When Arabs kill Jews , they don’t care about justice and get away Scott free , however when a soldier- an aid in defending the Jewish State does this we accuse him even if his life may be in the balance!!! 2 points- What a sad day for Israeli justice. Young men will be hesitant to enlist due to their vulnerability to the skewed system!!!

  9. THERE IS A LOT OF HOT EMOTION OVER THIS TRIAL.
    NO ONE BLAMES THE HATE HE MUST HAVE FELT AT THAT MOMENT.
    THERE WAS NO QUESTION THAT THE TERRORIST WOULD KILL AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE IF GIVEN THE CHANCE. BUT HE WAS STOPPED IN HIS TRACKS AND COMPLETELY PHYSICALLY HELD DOWN ON THE GROUND. AT THAT POINT THE SOLDIER SHOT HIM AND HE DIED.
    NO ONE BLAMES THE SOLDIER FOR HIS FURY, BUT THE DANGER WAS CLEARLY OVER. THO THE SOLDIER TRIED AFTERWARDS TO CLAIM SELF DEFENSE CLAIMING THAT HE THOUGHT HE WAS WEARING A SUICIDE BELT AND SOMEONE ELSE ALSO TESTIFIED THAT HIS BULLET WASN’T THE ONE THAT KILLED HIM, HIS DEFENSE DIDN’T HOLD UP. HE SHOT HIM AFTER HE WAS TOTALLY NEUTRALIZED. TO ACQUIT HIM WOULD CLEARLY HAVE BEEN A MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE THO ANYONE WOULD UNDERSTAND THE HIGHLY EMOTIONAL SIDE OF IT-AS IN WAR. MY FEELING IS THE ACTUAL SENTENCE SHOULD BE MUCH LESS FOR A MANSLAUGHTER UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES, BUT ACQUITTAL IT CANNOT BE.

  10. As long as Israel does not dethrone the non-elected-for-life anti-Israel radical leftist well-bribed judges who took themselves so much power they can do whatever they want.

  11. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that this left wing misguided court gave such a sick ruling, yet they are so full of their pompous-ness it is sickening. May Hashem have mercy on this soldier and his family. This is the reward one gets for being mesiras nefesh for am yisrael? The leftists are rotten to the core, let us be blessed that these are not OUR leaders.

  12. The pathologist said that the terrorist was dead before the soldier shot him. So the soldier did not kill him. Read the article. The leftists and the judges are self-hating Jews and will always put an Arab first.

    Sorry, simcha613, they ARE simply throwing him to the wolves.
    They reached this verdict way before the trial began.

  13. As anyone who has ever served in a military can tell you, people like Elor Azariya actually endanger soldiers’ lives.

    When an enemy is fighting you, you want the enemy to voluntarily surrender. It is much easier (and safer) for your enemy to surrender than to kill the enemy in combat. In the Six Day War, for example, thousands of Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Desert simply surrendered to approaching Israeli forces rather than fight. Had these soldiers fought to the death, hundreds of Israeli soldiers would have been killed, and Israeli forces would have been tied up for weeks or even months.

    The Torah teaches us this. In Parshas Shoftim, Hashem commands Klal Yisroel to ask the residents of a city to voluntarily surrender before besieging the city. If the inhabitants of the city will surrender peacefully, countless lives can be saved.

    Here’s the catch: the enemy won’t surrender if they think they’ll be mistreated in captivity. The Egyptian soldiers in 1967 surrendered peacefully because they knew that in previous wars (including Mivtza Kadesh in 1956), the Israelis treated prisoners humanely.

    If word goes out that Israel shoots neutralized prisoners in the head, even when the prisoners are restrained and pose no current threat, Israel’s enemies will stop giving up so easily. More terrorists will fight to the death, instead of taking their chances in Israeli custody. That would mean more dead chayalei Tzahal, R”L.

    The IDF knows what it’s doing. Before we attack military commanders and judges, it’s worth learning more about the realities on the ground.

  14. Not shocked. Israel has consistently placed its enemies before its own troops. For example, Israel has repeatedly failed to return the body of Hadar Goldin, yet they can secure a peace deal with Turkey. Now the troops may be afraid to fire in any situation, even when their own lives are in danger. This is usual of Israel, terrorists and enemies come before own troops. One can not comment on whether or not Azaria should have felt a sense of danger unless he has been in this kind of situation. That means, a terrorist on the ground wearing a black coat which may easily hold an explosive device, and people yelling that he has an explosive device. Was Maya Heller, the judge, ever in that situation with the adrenaline racing?

  15. @Aryeh Leib – you are confusing two different issues. The Egyptians were not genecidal lunatics who would not give up until every last one of their soldiers is dead unlike Hamas and their ilk. They often send mentally deficient drugged up people to perpetrate the crime. Not comparable at all. If in doubt take them out!

  16. There are no words to express this horrific state of affairs. It is scary, very scary, for we see that one who is kind to the side of evil is then cruel to the merciful one. How far will this go? May Hashem bring Moshiach, along with true judgement, speedily in our days.

  17. I am old enough to remember when some arab in a tractor was shot by Israeli policewoman, but sufficiently to finish him off, and his last act in this world was to kill a young 33 year old woman pushing a baby in stroller, and this woman being great-granddaughter of chief Rabbi Hutner. Another soldier finished off this arab, and the policewomen said she didn’t shoot him more, not to get into trouble for excessive force. Elor Azariya was so much smarter than this policewoman.