IDF soldier who shot Hebron terrorist 'admits to 90% of case,' prosecution says

Prosecutors charges that Azaria has repeatedly changed his accounts of the incident.

June 1, 2016 13:06
1 minute read.
Elor Azaria

Elor Azaria. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)

The IDF soldier charged with manslaughter for the fatal shooting of an immobilized terrorist in Hebron in March "admits to 90 percent of the case" and the onus is on him to prove his claims of self defense, the military prosecution said Wednesday in the ongoing trial of Sgt. Elor Azaria.

On May 9, Azria's trial opened at the Jaffa Military Court over the March 24 shooting of Fatal al-Sharif, who had attacked soldiers at the scene and was then shot while lying wounded on the ground.

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The shooting was picked up on a video distributed by B’Tselem, which went viral online and has dominated the airwaves with a war of words over Azaria’s guilt or innocence pitting.

On Wednesday, the prosecution charged that Azaria has repeatedly changed his accounts of the incident and that the much-debated knife that the Palestinian assailant had used to stab a nearby soldier was not on the terrorist's person, but out of reach.

The prosecution underlined that the case revolved around the IDF's "foundational values" and whether the IDF to enforce its ethics doctrine regarding the "purity of arms," or the use of weapons only for to purpose of their stated mission, even when used against a terrorist. 

The prosecution then called head military police investigator, IDF Maj-Ran Keinan, as its first witness to testify against Azaria.

According to Keinan's testimony, Azaria sent a text message to his father following the incident, telling him that a colleague had been injured by a knife-wielding terrorist, but that Azaria had made sure to shoot the attacker while he was still alive.

Keinan added that video footage had emerged in which Azaria is filmed shaking hands with far-right Jewish activists Baruch Marzel and ambulance driver Ofer Ohana after the shooting incident.

According to Keinan, a fellow soldier initially said that before Azaria shot the subdued terrorist he stated that the Palestinian "stabbed my friend, he deserved death." The soldier later said Azaria made the remarks after shooting the Palestinian attacker, Keinon said.

The hearing marks the latest development in the incident that severely fractured Israeli society and even brought about a political controversy between the former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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