|Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot|
IDF Chief of Staff
If he submits a request to the chief of staff to ease his prison sentence, Azaria will remain in prison at least about a month before a decision is made on the request. The military appeals court ruled he would not begin serving his 18-month sentence until August 9.
Until then, Azaria and his lawyers will have to decide whether to ask the Supreme Court to review the military appeals court decision.
If he decides not to appeal again, he will enter prison on August 9 and only be able to file a request with [Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi] Eisenkot on September 7. Military law requires the chief of staff to respond such a request within 30 days, during which Eisenkot must consult with the military prosecutor’s office.
Military sources told Haaretz that unless Azaria takes responsibility for his actions and expresses at least some degree of remorse, it is doubtful Eisenkot will accede to any request of his. The soldier’s lawyer, Yoram Sheftel, said he would be prepared “to discuss a concrete proposal” from IDF to lighten Azaria’s sentence. IDF sources rejected Sheftel’s approach, saying ball is in Azaria’s court to submit a request to Eisenkot.
Following the appeals court ruling, Eisenkot said he intends to consider a request to ease the sentence, if Azaria submits one, “out of my sole commitment to the values of the Israel Defense Forces, its combat soldiers and those serving it.” He indicated he will not take into account pressure from politicians or public opinion, and that he views the case as an internal army matter.
In his statement, Eisenkot also hinted at acknowledging that the IDF also erred in part of its handling of the case, saying the army had “learned lessons” from the case “and will also continue to do so” following the appeals court’s decision.Israeli political leaders seem incapable of allowing the justice system to function on its own. A very bad pattern has emerged. The Chief of Staff also should have remained silent.