One in five self-described ‘leftists’ support the actions of Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier on trial for shooting a disarmed Palestinian attacker in the head.
Nearly half of Jewish Israelis support the extrajudicial killing of Palestinian attackers who no longer pose a threat, according to a poll released by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) on Wednesday.
Forty-seven (47) percent of Jewish respondents said they agree that “any Palestinian who carries out an attack should be killed on the spot, even if he does not pose a threat.” In a poll from October 2015, 53 percent of Jewish respondents gave the same answer to a nearly identical question.
Pollsters also asked Jewish Israelis about the specific case of an Israeli soldier who was filmed shooting a Palestinian attacker in the head long after he had been disarmed, wounded and no longer posed a threat. Sixty-five (65) percent of respondents said they feel the soldier, Sgt. Elor Azaria, was justified in executing the Palestinian man, Abed al-Fatah al-Sharif.
Sgt. Azaria is currently being tried in an Israeli military court for manslaughter. One of his main lines of defense has been that his actions, murdering a Palestinian attacker after he had been disarmed, does not deviate from the acceptable norms of behavior for Israeli security forces.
Azaria has enjoyed widespread public support since his arrest earlier this year, and his trial has become somewhat of a public spectacle. Just this week, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman declared that he would “stand by” the soldier even if he is convicted.
Broken down into various demographic segments, those most likely to justify Azaria’s actions are ultra-Orthodox Jews (95 percent), those between the ages of 18-24 (84 percent), and self-described right-wingers (83 percent). One in five self-describe left-wing Jewish Israelis said they justify Azaria’s action, while half of “centrists” do as well.
The IDI survey was conducted by telephone at the end of August, included 600 respondents, and had a margin of error of ±4.1 percent.