Elor Azaria: Victim Or Hero? Four Questions.

While emotions are still running high, people are rushing to condemn the Military Court or to condemn those condemning the Military Court.  I am not prepared to do either.  I am still asking myself questions.  Here are some of them.

 1… Elor Azaria killed only one of the two terrorists involved in the stabbing in Hebron that day.  The soldier who killed the other terrorist was never charged nor was there any hint he did anything wrong.  Who even remembers that there were two terrorists?  Why is that, do you think?  Could it be because the first terrorist was killed in the act and Azaria killed the second as he lay wounded on the ground, after the scene had already been secured?

2…  How was Azaria to know that the scene had been secured and that the terrorist who lay wounded had already been checked and found not to have on him any explosives?  I saw nothing that showed that this issue was covered during the trial.

3… Do we have evidence pointing to lower morale in the IDF, or to a reduced chance that soldiers will use their weapons against terrorists in the midst of an attack following charges having been laid against Azaria?  I seem to remember a number of cases in which terrorists were killed during attacks on soldiers that happened after Elor was charged.  In any case, anecdotal information is not evidence.

4… Now that Elor has been found guilty of manslaughter, is the way opened for charging higher ranking officers who were responsible for what happened at the scene?  Perhaps charges could not be laid against them before Azaria’s conviction. Is that so?

Before we decide whether the verdict is disgraceful – or not – let us think calmly about what transpired and examine all that we know. I am going to try to think of more questions and invite you to add your questions in the comments below.

First published at Israel Diaries.

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  1. Sheri, obviously we don’t have all the answers yet, which is why it seems premature that this soldier was brought to trial so rapidly.

    From a moral rather than legal point of view, it seems unjust to ruin this man’s life through what may have been an ill-considered response. He is only a young man, and in the fog of war, survival instinct kicks in. He probably did what many other soldiers do in perilous situations – acted instinctively rather than stopping to think it through. After all, he was facing a terrorist, and he probably didn’t know if the wounded man was booby trapped.

    So while legally he might well be guilty of manslaughter, one can hope the Court acts wisely and makes allowances for this young man.

    • I think this is murder and it isn’t a hurried trial Pam. It’s almost a year ago now.
      Azaria shot a man in cold blood who was down and out on the floor. It was not a “perilous situation” The area was secured.

      “Sergeant Elor Azaria, 19, who shot a 21-year-old Palestinian attacker on March 24 in the city of Hebron, in the southern West Bank. A video widely circulated online appeared to show Azaria, who holds Israeli and French citizenship, shooting Abdul Fatah al-Sharif in the head despite him lying flat on the ground, seemingly posing no threat. He and an accomplice, also shot dead, had stabbed another IDF soldier, wounding him lightly.”

      • Azaria was first alerted to the grounded Arab terrorist some 10/12 meters from him, and shot him – moving forward, approximately 5/6 meters from him. What did Azaria see…that prompted him to take the fatal course of action?

        I once stood in very close proximity to a ‘very dead’ Turkish Cypriot terrorist… who had been expired…was ‘very’ dead, for a good three quarters of an hour….very much by then, a non-perilous environment.

        In a surreal moment, this dead Turkish terrorist managed to produce a .45 calibre revolver and randomly shoot dead a distant Greek Cypriot (bystander) youth.

        Not one of near a dozen other combatants saw this Turk Cypriot move; myself included, or believed that he was anything but dead…which he certainly was, after getting his one and only random fatal shot off.

        In Azaria’s case, the grounded Arab terrorist was still alive….hence highly dangerous. What did Azaria see….knowing as his training would ensure, the proficiency, and proclivity of Arabs towards personal strap on explosive devices!?

        Personally, I would not like to have made a judgement call in respect of the action Azaria took.

        • There is plenty of evidence both live and recorded.

          • Hi Shirlee….Yes I was in Israel through a few months of the nationally polarising discussion that took place in respect of this matter…listening to, and watching the suggestions and counter suggestions of what Azaria and the IDF Corporal had said to each other…(and those comments since omitted/disappeared), at the rear of the Van…revenge comments for stabbing his friend and reasons for taking off his helmet etc.,….both before, and after the actual shooting….some of which were used to bring forth the guilty verdict….and others that equally supported Azaria.

            At base line, I believe Azaria erred questionably in his judgement….though to his then mind set, believe he did see the Arab Terrorist as a continuing threat….if not to all around him, then to himself at least….for it was his close friend who had been stabbed by the (first) Terrorist who had been shot dead.

            For the contrived reputational damage it does to Israel….in the eyes of it impressionable detractors, and hard core haters, I am not looking forward to the actual handing down of the punitive sentence. Cheers.