Identity of soldier who shot terrorist dead released for publication

Sergeant Elor Azaria, 20, from Ramla, the Kfir Brigade soldier who shot dead a terrorist in Hevron, was charged with manslaughter at the Jaffa Military Court on Monday.

The Jaffa Military Court accepted the defense’s request to to lift the gag order on the soldier’s name.

Azaria was also charged with inappropriate behavior.

“The soldier took several steps towards the terrorists, aimed at his head and fired a single bullet from short range. This the defendant did in contradiction with the rules of engagement and without operational justification,” the indictment said.

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The judge criticized both the prosecution and the defense, and warned that the evidence in the case was weak. “The level of criminality of the defendant might be lower than what the prosecution attributes him,” Judge Shor said.

Prosecutor Lt.-Col. Adoram Rigler said at the court hearing that “the terrorist who was shot by the soldier did not pose a risk to him or to anyone around him. There is a strong evidentiary basis to prove the indictment.”

The military prosecution sought to keep the soldier under open arrest in his army base, while the defense team demanded to release him, claiming he poses no danger and that there is no risk he would try to flee justice.

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“The testimony and evidence ruled out a vengeful motive for the shooting. The pathologist said she cannot rule out that the terrorist might have moved his hands,” the defense said.

Attorney Ilan Katz, representing the soldier, further stated, “Company Commander NT testified to the Military Police, saying, ‘I stood there for 7-8 minutes before the shooting, and noticed about 20 seconds before the shooting that the terrorist was moving.’ Which explains the carelessness of the other people around. We ask that the soldier at least be (allowed to go) home for the (Passover) Seder, and we ask that the gag order regarding his identity be removed.”

Attorney Ben Malka, who also represents the soldier, said that “the decision mentions the fact there are many versions in support of the soldier. The prosecution’s evidence is weak and this led, to begin with, to detention at the base. This is a manslaughter case and might turn out to be less. The indictment is not the end of it, just the opening note, and the truth will come out.”

Azaria enlisted in the army a year and eight months ago and became a combat soldier in the Shimshon Battalion of the Kfir Brigade. After successfully finishing a combat medics course, he began serving as a medic in his company.

Azaria has no criminal or disciplinary record. On the contrary, before the incident, he recently received a certificate of excellence for his service.

His father served in the police for 30 years. In recent years, the father has been doing volunteer work, helping soldiers to expunge their criminal record.

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