IDF soldier shoots subdued Palestinian.
(photo credit: screenshot)
“I would have stopped him if I knew he would fire,” TM, a fellow soldier and friend of Hebron shooter Sgt. Elor Azaria, told the Jaffa Military Court on Monday, describing his March 24 killing of an immobilized Palestinian terrorist in Hebron.
As part of the manslaughter trial, which continues to garner attention, TM was giving testimony that could devastate Azaria’s manslaughter defense for shooting Abdel Fatah al-Sharif.
The witness’s name is under gag order, after other soldiers who testified for the IDF prosecution against Azaria faced harassment on social media.
In addition to saying that he would have stopped Azaria, the witnessed testified: “Elor told the [Kfir Brigade] company commander that my friend was stabbed and [the terrorist] deserved to die.”
There was also drama throughout TM’s testimony, as he has a heavy lisp which forced him to write many of his answers to the judges.
The judges were concerned that he was writing answers to try to improve Azaria’s case, and intervened often to ask him why his written words to them were different than what he had told police. In cross-examination it became clear that TM wanted to be on Azaria’s side as much as he could.
He proceeded to testify that he was not really sure exactly what Azaria had said to him and said explained that he and Azaria were in shock and were both worried that al-Sharif was wearing an explosive. He added that if Azaria had told him that al-Sharif might have a bomb, he might have shot al-Sharif himself.
TM, along with another soldier, AV, who had also been at the scene, testified Monday on cross-examination by the defense that IDF commanders had tried to influence their testimony by slamming Azaria publicly ahead of an investigation and trial.
Last week, Azaria’s defense lawyers fought with the Hebron commander, Col. Yariv Ben Ezra, about whether he had improperly influenced the trial with a speech he gave to his soldiers in which he called Azaria’s actions “grave.”
The defense tried to build an argument that high-ranking officers engaged in “indirect witness tampering.” On cross-examination witness AV accused the IDF of improper influence on the case, citing Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot’s condemnation of the shooting.
Both TM and AV warmly greeted Azaria and his family with handshakes and hugs.
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