Tony Greenstein | 06 January 2017 | Post Views:

Elor Azaria, Israel’s killer hero is unlikely to do any gaol time

Imagine, if you will, a Palestinian who had shot in
the head, cold bloodedly, a severely wounded Israeli lying prostrate on the
ground.  Imagine Benjamin Netanyahu urging
clemency.  This is a fantasy
scenario.  Palestinians guilty of
resistance, who kill Israeli combat soldiers, which they are entitled to do under international law, because a people living under occupation is entitled to resist the occupiers, would receive life sentences of 30
years and more. 
in the past month Balad member of the Knesset Basel Ghattas of Balad was arrested on suspicion of
passing phones and intelligence information to Walid Daka, one of two prisoners
whom Ghattas allegedly met with during a visit to Ketziot prison.  In most civilised countries, prisoners have access to mobile phones.  As to ‘intelligence information’ the mind boggles.
Daka has not been the recipient of a pardon. 
On the contrary he is serving a 37-year sentence for the 1984 abduction
and murder of 19-year-old soldier Moshe Tamam. 
Daka is not a hero in Israel because, of course, he is not Jewish.  On the contrary he was guilty of killing a
soldier in the Jewish state’s army.  He
should count himself lucky to be alive. 
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog said in a statement that the
verdict must be respected. He added, however, that “it cannot be ignored that
Azaria was, to some degree, a victim of the situation, but the ruling
strengthens the IDF, since you cannot ignore the circumstances of the incident,
which reflect an impossible reality in a field that is complicated, which IDF
soldiers deal with daily, hourly.”

Quite how a cold-blooded killer is ‘a victim of the situation’ defies explanation.  Perhaps the Yorkshire Ripper was also a ‘victim of the situation’.  Totally absurd legitimation of Azaria.
Israeli Labour’s former leader calls for a pardon for Elor Azaria

However The Times of Israel reported that, 

In a
surprise development, coalition ministers were joined in their call for a
pardon by Zionist Union’s Shelly Yachimovich, former head of the Labour Party.

praised the court for burnishing the ethical standard expected of IDF soldiers,
but said the entire trial was a symptom of the deep division within Israeli
society, “and Azaria’s shoulders are not broad enough to bear the weight of
that rift. Therefore,” she tweeted, “at the conclusion of the trial and after
the sentencing, we must carefully consider the possibility of pardoning him.”
Another demonstration of how the Israeli Labour Party is not an opposition but a partner in the crimes committed against the Palestinians.
Can you imagine Herzog or Netanyahu pointing out the
circumstances that led a Palestinian to shoot dead an IDF soldier who was
harassing his family or raiding a house? 
Unimaginable.  Palestinians in
such a situation have their ‘blood on their hands’.  The only debate in Israel is whether to
execute Palestinians who kill soldiers after a trial or whether to simply
dispense with a trial, as Elor Azaria did. 
That is why Azaria is a hero. 
What he did was nothing exceptional.

It should be pointed out that Azaria is a supporter of the
late Jewish Nazi politician and ex-Knesset member Rabbi Meir Kahane.  He is a thorough going racist.

Joint (Arab)
List chair MK Ayman Odeh charged

“Netanyahu chose to stand together
with the supporters of the soldier and their joyous calls of death to the
Arabs, and so made it clear the he is responsible for the moral decline that
these groups are leading in Israeli society,”
is guilty,”
he added, “but it is the
government that is responsible, which for 50 years has been sending young men
and women to become thugs whose task is to uphold military rule over a
population deprived of rights.”

Joint (Arab) List chairman Ayman Odeh addresses a question to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the assembly hall of the parliament, July 18, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

In a
statement, Odeh implied that hundreds of extrajudicial killings were being
carried out by the IDF in the West Bank.

“The difference between this
incident and hundreds of others is the presence of the B’Tselem camera that
recorded the cruel reality of the occupation and revealed the inflammatory pus
that the occupation creates in the heart of Israeli society,”
he said.
The banner that sums up the campaign to pardon Elor Azaria
Two weeks
ago I criticised
an article by Yakov Hirsch Azaria’s
conviction will end a totalitarian ideology
for wishful thinking and back
in April in THIS IS Israel – Call to Kill All Arabs at Tel Aviv
Rally in Support for Killer Soldier
I described a demonstration called
in support of Azaria in Tel Aviv where a banner ‘Kill them all’ (i.e. kill all Arabs) was displayed at a
demonstration  called in solidarity with
But above
all else, what this case shows above anything else is the moral and political
degeneration of the Israeli settler state. 
Is there another country on this planet where a cold-blooded racist killer
could be named
man of the year by the main TV Channel 10 and by Makor Rishon, a
publication owned by US billionaire Sheldon Adelson?
Palestinians hold posters showing Israeli army medic Elor Azarya, at a protest in Hebron on 4 January, the day Azarya was convicted of manslaughter for killing injured Palestinian Abdul Fattah al-Sharif in March 2016. Wisam Hashlamoun APA images
Israeli military court has convicted Elor Azarya, the
20-year-old army medic who was caught
on video executing
an injured Palestinian man lying in the street last
year, for manslaughter.
the trial, Azarya’s lawyers argued that the soldier had fired at Abd al-Fattah
Yusri al-Sharif in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron because he felt he was
in danger.
But in
their ruling on Wednesday, the judges found “beyond all
reasonable doubt” that Azarya had acted in revenge.
hours, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for Azarya, who is seen
as a national hero
by many in Israel, to be pardoned.
was shot dead along with Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, both 21 years old, on 24 March
last year. Israel alleges that they stabbed a soldier near the Tel Rumeida
settlement in Hebron.
killing of al-Qasrawi was not caught on video.
verdict came shortly after Human Rights Watch said
that senior Israeli officials have been 
“encouraging Israeli soldiers and
police to kill Palestinians they suspect of attacking Israelis even when they
are no longer a threat.”

“Perversion of justice”
the verdict, Azarya’s supporters staged protests,
blocking traffic, clashing with police and shouting
racist abuse
at Palestinian workers.
Some of
the protesters carried banners in support of US President-elect Donald Trump:
from Israel’s far-right and centrist political parties are calling for
Azarya to be pardoned, a power that lies with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
the calls, Netanyahu said,
This is a difficult and painful day for all of us – and first and foremost for
Elor and his family, for [Israeli army] soldiers, for many soldiers and for the
parents of our soldiers, and me among them.”
Hebron, the family of al-Sharif expressed dissatisfaction that Azarya was only
charged with manslaughter.
told Palestinians gathered at a vigil in Hebron on Wednesday that they
would bring Israel to the International Criminal Court for what they see as
cold-blooded murder.
“The fact
that the soldier is convicted of manslaughter isn’t such an important development
from our standpoint,”
Fathi al-Sharif, an uncle of the slain man, told the Tel Aviv
newspaper Haaretz. “From the beginning, we stated that he had committed
murder and needed to be convicted of murder. The fact that they changed the
count of the indictment to manslaughter from our standpoint is a perversion of

Videotaped killing
Emad Abu
Shamsiyya, the Palestinian field researcher with the Israeli human rights group
B’Tselem who filmed
the killing, has received hundreds of death threats.
He said members of
Azarya’s family broke into his home and asked him to change his testimony to
the court.
On the
day of the shooting, Azarya was called
onto the scene after al-Sharif and al-Qasrawi were shot and incapacitated, to
give the moderately injured soldier medical assistance.
footage released
by B’Tselem shows al-Sharif lying on the ground, slightly moving his head,
while Israeli soldiers and medics work around him and load the injured soldier
onto an ambulance.
The video
shows no attempt to provide medical treatment to al-Sharif.
on the scene are heard shouting, “the terrorist is still alive,” and the “the
dog is still alive.”
then aims his weapon, takes a few steps towards al-Sharif, and shoots him in
the head. A stream of blood pours from the man’s head.
After the
video was released, some Israeli politicians and military leaders condemned the
shooting and the military announced it would charge the shooter with murder.
But almost immediately Israeli leaders began to backtrack as they saw the
swelling of popular support for Azarya.
was eventually indicted on the lesser manslaughter charge.
At the
trial, Azarya claimed he had shot the incapacitated al-Sharif out of fear for
his safety.
Azarya’s company commander testified
that al-Sharif posed no danger.
judges’ verdict
states that the reason Azarya shot al-Sharif “was not rooted in a sense of
danger, but rather in the explanation he provided immediately upon completion
of the shooting to the effect that ‘the terrorist deserved to die’ because he
had stabbed a friend of his prior to that.”

months after the shooting, more video emerged suggesting the army tampered with
evidence. The footage shows a person kicking
a knife
closer to the body of the slain man.

Shoot to kill policy
indictment is exceptional: scores
of Palestinians
have been killed by Israeli forces over the last year, many
in apparent extrajudicial executions, with impunity for their killers.
September, Amnesty
20 cases
of killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces. In 15 of those
cases, Amnesty said, “Palestinians were deliberately shot dead, despite posing
no imminent threat to life, in what appear to be extrajudicial executions.”

Also in
September, Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq found that
Since 1987, no Israeli soldier or commander has been convicted of willfully
causing the death of a Palestinian in the [occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip].”
According to Haaretz,
since 2000, in only a handful of cases were soldiers prosecuted for
manslaughter for the killing of Palestinians. Of those, only one soldier was
convicted. He received an eight-year sentence, though this was later reduced.
rights defenders are stressing that the killing of al-Sharif highlights a much
broader problem.
“It’s not
just about potentially rogue soldiers, but also about senior Israeli officials
who publicly tell security forces to unlawfully shoot to kill,”
Sari Bashi,
Israel advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, said.
Rights Watch says
that since October 2015, when an escalation in confrontations between
Palestinians and Israeli occupation forces began, it has documented numerous
statements “by senior Israeli politicians, including the police minister and
defense minister, calling on police and soldiers to shoot to kill suspected
attackers, irrespective of whether lethal force is actually strictly necessary
to protect life.”

one witness called by Azarya’s defense, a settler security chief, told
the court
that shooting at the heads of incapacitated alleged Palestinian
attackers is a common practice by Israeli occupation forces.
October, Azarya was named
man of the year by Israel’s Channel 10 and by Makor Rishon, a
publication owned by US billionaire Sheldon Adelson.
He is
expected to be sentenced in coming weeks.

See also Jonathan Cook’s Elor Azaria case: ‘No hope of equality before the law’ 

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