Protest in Tel Aviv for IDF Sgt. Elor Azaria.
(photo credit: MOTI KODUSH)
Police arrested a 33-year-old man on Saturday for allegedly inciting violence against IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot after Sgt. Elor Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter on Wednesday.
According to police, the man held a protest on Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv on Thursday where he incited against Eizenkot. The police then located the man, a Jerusalem resident, and brought him to a police station in the capital for questioning Saturday night.
This comes as a few thousands Israelis took to Rabin Square Saturday night to rally against incitement against the IDF and Supreme Court. The protest was organized by Ziv Shilon, an IDF officer who was severely wounded in Operation Pillar of Defense.
Representatives from different Israeli youth movements made speeches calling people to unite instead of directing hateful rhetoric at one another.
Bat Galim Shaar, the mother of Naftali Shaar, one of the three teenage boys who were abducted and murdered by Hamas terrorists in the summer of 2014, also took to the stage.
"Each and every one of us is responsible to act for solidarity and to maintain the unique fabric of the Israeli society. Let us embrace one another, embrace our army and our country. Let us take that responsibility," she urged listeners.
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog called for an “unequivocal call to stop the madness and fervor and restore sanity and tolerance” at the rally.
On Thursday, two suspects were arrested in Jerusalem and Kiryat Gat on suspicion of inciting against the panel of three IDF judges who convicted Sgt. Elor Azaria of manslaughter on Wednesday. This comes as a general uptick in calls for violence is being seen by police on social media, especially Facebook.
Police said that the Jerusalem suspect, 54, expressed “extreme criticisms” of the judges. The suspect will be brought to the Jerusalem Magistrates Court on Thursday, where police are seeking to extend his remand.
In Kiryat Gat, a 22-year-old suspect was arrested for issuing threats against IDF Judge Col. Maya Heller on Facebook on Wednesday. Allegedly she called on Heller to be blown up by a grenade and “eaten by dogs”. The suspect was released and banned from posting on Facebook for 30 days.
Judge Col. Maya Heller, who read the nearly three hour long court decision against Azaria, appears to be taking the brunt of social media backlash and threats. Lt. Col. Carmel Wahabi and Lt. Col. Yaron Sitbon, who were also on the panel, have been subjected to threats. All three judges were placed under security details in light of the threats.
“We are monitoring social networks based on the information that is being put out. Individuals are calling for violence or incitement to violence,” Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told the Post
on Thursday. He added that field operations are taking place to locate and detain any suspects.
“Freedom of expression is a leg of democracy,” the Lakhish District Police said in a statement, adding that “the police will act harshly against those that exceed the limits [of expression] permitted to ensure justice.” Joy Bernard contributed to this report.