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Polls: 70 Percent in Support of Pardoning Israeli Sgt. Azariya | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Elor Azariya during reading of verdict

Tel Aviv- A recent poll conducted across Israel showed a smashing 70 percent of Israelis being in favor of pardoning Sgt. Elor Azariya from his charges with manslaughter. Azariya had shot a wounded and neutralized Palestinian Arab lying helpless on the ground. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also supports a pardon.

Prosecutors who issued the conviction were ordered around-the-hour protection after receiving multiple threats of violent Jews, two of which were arrested.Not only that, but the Israeli political alliance known by the Joint List said that Netanyahu’s support of the pardon has further encouraged Jewish extremists to attack and kill Arabs in public places.

Azariya’s trial has filled up a considerable slot on the Israeli agenda, not to mention local newspapers have given it a full-blown coverage. The case has brought to surface divisions among Israelis some of which considered pardoning Azariya would be national treason drawn by defying the rule of law, while another party showed a great deal of empathy.

When scrutinizing the Tel Aviv military court verdict, it is clear that judges have unanimously agreed on Azaria being dishonest on several occasions, seeking to justify his killing of Abdel Fattah Sharif last year.

At first, Azariya claimed that Sharif posed a threat to his life. Paradoxically, a video of the shooting handed in by an Israeli human rights activist shows that Azariya showed no trace of fear or hesitance, which would be evident in the case of a true threat, while carrying out his action.

Instead, he acted comfortably and carried out the killing cold bloodedly.

Azariya also said that he spotted a hostile movement by Sharif, both the tape and his fellow soldiers testimonies suggest the complete opposite that the victim lying on the ground did not move at all.

The soldier also claimed that he saw a knife on the young man, while the footage also shows that the knife was a few meters away from Sharif at the time of his death. More so, the victim given his wounded state could not have possibly moved up to the knife.

On the other hand, the latest poll, conducted by the Gal Hadash survey group on behalf of Israel Hayom shows that a whopping 70% of Israelis believe Azariya should receive a full pardon, compared to just 19% who say he should not. Eleven percent had no opinion on the matter. Several other Israeli leaders and politicians from both sides of the political spectrum agreed that Azaria should be pardoned.

An earlier poll, conducted by the Midgam Research Institute in conjunction with iPanel shows similar levels of support for a pardon, with 67% of Israelis saying they favored a pardon, compared to 19% who oppose.

The Midgam poll also shows that 51% of Israelis say they disagree with the verdict, compared to 36% who agree with it.