Why it Matters that Azaria was Punished, and Why it’s Concerning

Sgt. Elor Azaria has been sentenced to 18 months’ prison for manslaughter – that is shooting a wounded Palestinian in the head after an altercation regarding these two and another soldier, who was stabbed by the Palestinian. This is at once significant and disturbing for a few reasons.

Firstly: 18 months for killing a man brutally, taking into account the circumstances, is still far too short regarding the crime and people involved (for context a British soldier committing a similar crime was sentenced to 10 years in prison for manslaughter, which has a minimum of 6 years). Which leads to the second point.

Secondly: the sheer level of resistance to any punishment, and the outcry over one as short as this not only from the right wing politicians in Israel, but also the Israeli people is deeply concerning. In many other cases where Palestinians are harmed or killed, there is often no punishment for the soldiers and many are lauded for doing their duty, according to the Israeli people.

The culture surrounding the military in Israel is blindly supportive, and very opposed to any form of leniency to the Palestinians. While some of this is understandable, no nation enjoys being attacked by a terrorist group (the group Hamas works within Palestinian territory and routinely attacks and accosts soldiers and Israel), it changes little as it ignores a fundamental reality about this case. Palestine wasn’t prosecuting Azaria.

The Military was.

He broke the rules, the military standards he had to operate by and was being punished for it, and then politics got involved. At the end of the day, the law was broken, standards breached, a man was killed and the politicians and Israeli people wanted him forgiven or pardoned, because the victim was a Palestinian.

It’s good that he’s being punished. But if Israel continues to forgive crimes against a certain people, and moves forward with a one state solution however that might occur, then not only will crimes like this continue to exist in whatever aftermath comes from this, but they will get worse and the international community is not and will not be so forgiving for a second apartheid. Let’s hope it’s not worse.

Time: Israel soldier Jailed for 18 months


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