Elor Azaria is guilty for firing the bullet that killed Abdel Fatteh al-Sharif this past March. But let us not forget the long line of inciting comments by top Israeli leaders that made it possible.
By Noam Rotem
Sgt. Elor Azaria stood on the witness stand during his trial this past week and described what led him to fire a bullet into Abdel Fatteh al-Sharif’s head on March 24 in Hebron’s Tel Rumeida neighborhood. Al-Sharif had, just moments before, stabbed an Israeli soldier before he was shot, wounded and posed no threat to anyone. Azaria fired his weapon directly at al-Sharif’s head as the latter laid sprawled out on the ground.
Since September 22, 2015, over 220 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers or police officers. Many of them allegedly took part in attacks on soldiers, policemen, and civilians. Aside from Azaria, no other soldiers or policemen were ever put on trial.
There is no arguing over the fact that Azaria was indeed the one who shot and killed al-Sharif. His line of defense has been the “justification” for the shooting, in an attempt to claim that he feared for his and others’ lives, and thus the incident will pass just like all the other ones from the last months. Some will claim that the only difference is that Azaria was caught on camera, but this is not exactly true: the officers who shot Muhammad Abu Halef in February were filmed by an Al-Jazeera crew that was at the scene — he too was sprawled out on the ground and posed no threat. The same goes for the killing of Hadeel al-Hashlamon, which took place when she was lying on the ground at a Hebron checkpoint, and many other cases. Not a single one of these incidents ended with putting soldiers or police officers on trial.
Instead of trying to justify his deplorable actions, Azaria must claim abuse of process. Two-hundred and twenty killed since October, and only one indictment for killing? Azaria, after all, did what everyone around him told him to do:
Education Minister Naftali Bennett said “I killed a lot of terrorists, too bad I didn’t kill more, anyone who raises his hand against Israel must die.” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that “every terrorist must know that he will not survive the attack he is about to carry out.” Erdan’s predecessor, Yitzhak Aharonovich, announced that “every attack must end with the terrorist’s...Read More