Prof. Yehuda Hiss, who was fired from his job as head of the national Forensic Institute by then Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman (UTJ), submitted his opinion for the defense Wednesday in the military trial of shooting medic Sgt. Elor Azaria, suggesting “the bullet that hit the terrorist’s head was most likely postmortem.”
Azaria was indicted by the IDF Prosecution for manslaughter for shooting a stabbing terrorist who had already been neutralized and was lying on the ground.
Prof. Hiss’ opinion was written based on the autopsy performed by medical examiner Dr. Hadas Gips, who testified before the same military court in June that the terrorist’s initial wounds, before Azaria shot him in the head, “were not immediately life threatening especially with medical care.” She told the court that “if the terrorist had been given medical treatment, he could have possibly been saved.”
But Israel’s Channel 1 TV News reported Wednesday night that Prof. Hiss’ opinion is that “based on the results of the autopsy and considering the conclusions from the opinion of Prof. Dov Shimon, it is reasonable to assume that the death of the deceased was caused by an acute respiratory failure, combined with an air embolism to the heart and brain, following the damage to the right lung by two bullets. The damage from the bullet that hit the head was, most likely, posthumous.”
Dr. Gips told the court that had the terrorist received treatment even as late as half an hour after the event, he could be saved. She said that what appeared like an air embolism — was not.
The contradiction between the two expert opinions could result in changing the indictment, but not necessarily in an acquittal. The defense may also have to modify its version of events, since to date their claim has been that Azaria saw the terrorist moving before shooting him — although this discrepancy could be explained away with an argument of reflex motion, either by the man on the ground, or by the shooter.
Prof. Hiss is not a well liked figure in Israel, and was fired from his prestigious job at the helm of the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute for mishandling thousands of body parts, some times for pay. According to Ha’aretz, Hiss continued to work for the Justice Ministry and collect his paycheck, which, back in 2015, ranked among the highest for civil servants in Israel.