Former Deputy Chief of Staff Gen (Res.) Uzi Dayan, who at one point was head of the IDF Central Command and is a nephew of the late Moshe Dayan, told a military court in Jaffa on Monday it should not have been involved in the case of shooting medic Sgt. Elor Azaria in the first place.
“I don’t know if the soldier sinned or not,” Gen. Dayan, a witness for the defense, stressed. “I’m concerned about the soldiers on the ground. Every such [court trial] day is causing more damage to the IDF.” He then turned to the judges and said, “It’s still not too late to reach a plea bargain, the damage to the Army is enormous.”
Gen. Dayan testified that, in his opinion, “every terrorist has a death sentence on his head, regardless of whether or not they pose a risk at the moment.”
The man who commanded the Hebron region at one point and served as National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister, said there should not have been a military police investigation of the case, nor a consequent involvement of the military prosecution, and certainly no trial. He also told the court that in his entire career he never permitted the military police to investigate an operational event.
“The military police does not have the tools needed to investigate operational events,” Gen. Dayan told the panel of three military judges. “It’s a shame that instead of using the tool of an investigating committee, they rolled it straight to the criminal arena. If a warrior makes a mistake, we don’t roll it over to the criminal realm, unless an insidious motive is involved.”
When the prosecutor asked if the rules of engagement don’t forbid killing a terrorist simply because he is a terrorist, Gen. Dayan responded, “This is patently wrong. What’s relevant are the mission instructions. I ordered to kill terrorists simply because they were terrorists, regardless of whether they endangered or didn’t endanger. … Terrorists must be killed. Is it under any condition? No, that’s true. But as to the question of whether terrorists should be killed, the answer is yes.”
At the end of his testimony, Gen. Dayan told the judges, “Many eyes are trained on you. The issue is under an unprecedented public debate, which means that your decision bears an enormous significance.”
Gen. (Res.) Dan Biton, who also testified for the defense, warned the court in a written affidavit that “there was a command failure on the part of the brigade commander, battalion commander and company commander.” He added, “In my opinion the company commander was in a trauma as a result of the shooting. This case represents a fault line. A wrong decision would lead to a situation whereby every soldier would be afraid to open fire to save a life.”