Photo Credit: Hillel Maeir/TPS
Trial of IDF Soldier Elor Azaria Near Kiryat Malachi. March 29, 2016

By Michael Bachner/TPS

Jaffa (TPS) – Sgt. Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier who is charged with manslaughter for shooting and killing an already wounded Palestinian Authority Arab terrorist in Hebron in March, began testifying on Sunday at the military court in Jaffa. Azaria offered his version of the incident, which has been under extensive media scrutiny, and criticized the country’s leaders for condemning his actions and for not supporting him.

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“The prime minister, defense minister and chief of staff all condemned my actions before hearing what I had to say,” charged Azaria. “I immediately lost faith in them. I feel like a scapegoat that they picked to clear the army’s name.”

Azaria’s testimony follows that of relevant state witnesses, including IDF soldiers and officers, members of the IDF Criminal Investigations Department, and Imad Abu-Shamsiya, a photographer for the NGO B’Tselem. Abu-Shamsiya filmed Azaria shooting and killing the wounded terrorist, who had stabbed and injured another IDF soldier several minutes earlier. The video quickly circulated and provoked outrage, causing the military to suspend Azaria.

“I am an army medic so I was not present at most military briefings,” testified 20-year-old Azaria. “I felt I was assigned tasks beyond my capabilities. I was given serious responsibilities without adequate sleep.”

Azaria’s main line of defense is that he shot the wounded Arab terrorist, Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, due to fear that al-Sharif was wearing an explosive vest and that the shooting was thus carried out in self-defense.

“I rushed to the scene and was told that there had been an attack and that someone was stabbed, my first incident with a real casualty,” Azaria testified in court. “I treated the wounded soldier while people started yelling, ‘he has an explosive device,’ and I saw that the terrorist had a big black coat that looked like he was hiding something. We were warned about the possibility of a ‘high-level attack,’ and I understood that this was it.”

“I saw that the terrorist was moving his hand toward the knife and it looked suspicious to me,” said Azaria. “I had no way to know for certain and felt that everyone at the scene was in danger. I took my weapon, loaded it, and saw that the people around me were complacent. I walked between them, screamed ‘move,’ and fired one bullet towards the terrorist’s head. I neutralized him to save the lives of everyone at the scene. I had a dilemma before pulling the trigger, but felt I had no choice.”

“After the shooting, I told my company commander Tom Na’aman that I had fired the shot,” he added. “He shouted at me, saying ‘what are you doing? Are you nuts?’ And then he slapped me twice. It was the first time I had shot a person and I was under stress. I did not understand why he reacted like that in front of everyone instead of trying to calm me down.”

“I was shocked by the incident itself and also by my commander. I lost faith in him,” testified Azaria. “The army had told us it would take care of us like a parent, but my commander turned on me. It was all lies.”

The prosecution alleges that Azaria shot a terrorist that posed no threat. “The soldier acted against the rules of engagement and without operational justification,” the military prosecution said. “The terrorist al-Sharif was lying on the ground, did not attack again, and did not pose an immediate threat to the defendant or to the civilians and soldiers who were at the scene. In his actions, the defendant caused the unlawful death of the terrorist.”

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21 COMMENTS

  1. He should've been defended by his commander and the state for acting as he did, not persecuted as a criminal. In my mind, he did the right thing – he had no way of knowing whether that Arab was a serious danger, but had good reason to suspect the
    worst, therefore…

  2. “"I am … wondering how we have reached the point where a combat soldier is being tried for killing Satan disguised as a terrorist while the Hamas terrorists are laughing at us all,” wrote MK Hazan on Twitter."" He is absolutely right. What is going on in Israel is incomprehensible, and very dangerous. The major danger comes not from outside of Israel but from inside.

  3. in modern Israel, EVIDENTLY YES! I noted this contradiction of 1 Sam 17 a few months ago. In modern Israel, evidently, David would not have continued to be Israel's greatest king, but would have languished in gaol for some time, and possibly victimized for the rest of his life. His family would be at their wits end etc. etc. And the Philistines would not have been routed to Gat … instead even the king would have continued to quake in his boots etc.

  4. "Tom Na'aman". Never forget the name of this menuval. Why isn't he even standing trial for hitting Sgt. Elazar? One rule for Malshinim another rule for those who defend innocent Jewish life. This is a regime that wants to turn their own people against them. They are doing an excellent job.

  5. Be brave Azairaq, these PC whores are busy groveling
    and crawlingon their pathetic knees, pleading for the
    World to accept hem. Morons
    Azariaq you are a hero.
    The disillusionment that you feel is justified and Their
    betrayal of you and all the solider's is unconscionable.
    What other nation participates in this insanity?
    Shameful.

  6. And Abbas with his Fatah organization that tells the youth to go out and slit Israeli throats (which they then go and do) AND PAY SALARIES TO TERRORISTS IN GAOL AS A REWARD FOR THEIR KILLINGS! It is insane to leave these promotors of terror FREE whilst threatening to imprison and punish a 19 year old kid who made a quick decision. What is a car accident? It is a quick decision that went wrong etc. With a terrorist lying on the ground who moves YOU ACT QUICKLY.

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