Eleazar Azaria, the Israeli soldier who fired from close range in March 2016 at Abdul Fattah al-Sharif, who was injured on the ground and unable to move or defend himself, has said that he acted according to his training and does not regret the murder.
The soldier, in an interview with Israel Hayom newspaper published on Wednesday, said that he acted as he should, and should not have received the prison sentence that was imposed on him.
Azaria was convicted of “unintentional murder” in a military court and sentenced to 14 months’ imprisonment, reduced to 9 months by Army Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot. He was released in May, and immediately congratulated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Prime Minister also expressed sympathy for the soldier’s family, and did not denounce the oaths during Azaria’s military trial against the army chief of staff.
Azaria said he has no regrets for his actions, and claimed that he feared that the martyr was carrying an explosive device on his body, so fired at his head. He also pointed out that after the murder, he continued to guard the Purim procession in Hebron for four hours while carrying the weapon.
“The people of Israel unite and stand behind us all the time,” he said.
Due to how the murder was documented, the then Minister of Defense Moshe Yaalon and the army spokesman were forced to condemn it. Azaria claimed that the army leadership abandoned him “for fear that the Palestinians would announce a day of anger, although they do not lack days of anger,” he said.
Commenting on his statements, the army spokesman said that “Azaria was convicted of unintentional killing, and the decision speaks for itself.”