Elor Azaria, a former Israeli soldier convicting of killing a Palestinian during his military service, was released on Tuesday after spending nine months in prison.
Azaria was originally supposed to be released on Thursday but he asked to be released on Tuesday to attend his brother’s wedding on Wednesday. The military approved his request. His release came after a military parole committee decided in March to cut a third of his 14-month prison time. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who urged for Azaria to be pardoned, said in a statement he was “glad that this is over.” Azaria was welcomed in his town, Lod, east of Tel Aviv, with celebrations. On March 24, 2016, Azaria was a 19-year-old military medic in the West Bank city of Hebron when Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, 21, and Ramzi Aziz al-Qasarwi carried out a knife attack, lightly injuring a soldier.
Troops shot dead al-Qasarwi and gravely wounded al-Sharif. Azaria arrived at the scene and shot a single bullet to his head. The deadly shooting was caught on a video by a human rights organization and spread widely on social networks. In 2017, a military court in Tel Aviv found Azaria guilty of manslaughter. He was sentenced 18 months of prison, of which he had to serve only 14 after Israel’s Chief of Staff Gadi Eiznkot slashed his punishment by four months. Azaria’s case divided the nation, with many, including political leaders, hailing him as a hero who was unjustly punished harshly.