'All terrorists must be killed,' says famed IDF general (res.) at Hebron shooter trial

In what could possibly be the most consequential day of the trial so far, three IDF generals testify on behalf of Elor Azaria.

Hebron shooter trial September 19
“All terrorists must be killed,” Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan told the Jaffa Military Court on Monday, while testifying on behalf of Hebron shooter Elor Azaria in his manslaughter trial.
Azaria is accused of killing Abdel Fatah al-Sharif while he lay on the ground “neutralized,” already wounded by soldiers whom he had tried to stab. The IDF prosecution says Azaria killed Sharif in revenge for the Palestinian attacker stabbing his friend.
Until Monday, all of the high ranking officers who had testified in the trial had gone against Azaria and in favor of the IDF prosecution.
But on Monday, Azaria’s lawyer, Ilan Katz, literally pulled rank on the IDF prosecution bringing two major-generals, Dayan and Dani Biton (res.), to testify on Azaria’s behalf.
It was unknown to all involved in the case when was the last time such high-ranking officers had testified in military court. Major-general is one rank below chief-of-staff.
Monday’s drama also brought a titanic battle between IDF lead prosecutor Lt.-Col. Nadav Weissman, Dayan and Biton, and defense lawyer Katz over control of the questioning.
Weissman has dominated witnesses on cross-examination, interrupting them and leading them as he desired with the judges frequently taking his side over Katz.
Not with Dayan. Katz slammed his hand on the table saying Weissman cannot treat a major-general as a criminal, and the court instructed Weissman to give Dayan, and later Biton, more space to answer questions as they wished.
Dayan’s main points went as follows: He said the case should never have received a criminal probe, or certainly not before a full command investigation by non-lawyer IDF commanders was first completed.
The former IDF general said military police do not have sufficient expertise in operational matters and that criminal probes should not happen until a full command investigation sets the factual universe of what happened.
He expressed heavy concern that this case is harming the IDF every day it continues and harming future soldiers’ ability to defend themselves and to know how to act.
Dayan said these bigger concerns are the reason he got involved, and that he has little to say about the specific facts relating to Azaria’s case.
With regard to Azaria, he did say it seemed Azaria at most had made a mistake and that no mistake in a dangerous operational situation should lead to a manslaughter charge.
Confronted by a series of old cases from the late ’90s in which incidents where Palestinians were killed and criminal probes occurred under his command, Dayan said he did not recall the incidents.
He added he never ordered a criminal probe before a full command probe had occurred, but that it was possible the Military Advocate General ordered a probe on his own.
Next, Biton testified, with tension boiling over even more between him and Weissman than with Dayan.
If Dayan had cerebrally and patiently sometimes disregarded Weissman’s attempts to control the flow of questioning, Biton got visibly worked-up, moved into Weissman’s space when the prosecutor tried to interrupt him and started waving his finger at him.
Biton said the IDF prosecution could not accuse Azaria of killing Sharif in revenge “because only he knows what he was thinking.”
He warned both Weissman and the court that they are leading the army to a situation where anything that is a subjective decision by a soldier will lead to the “soldier being prosecuted in court.”
The former general said that “in a dangerous area, there is no black and white.” He explained that Azaria had legitimately claimed there was a “potential danger” since Sharif’s knife attack proved intent and Azaria’s suspicion of a concealed explosive vest was legitimate.
Biton also specifically slammed Maj. Tom Naaman, one of the key accusers of Azaria and his commander on the scene, as a poor commander and potentially a liar.
Weissman tried to mitigate the damage that both Dayan and Biton could do to the prosecution’s case on a legal level, getting both of them to admit that they were not fully familiar with key pieces of testimony in the case, such as soldier Tomer Mazika’s statements that Azaria shot Sharif in revenge.
In a highly emotional moment, Azaria’s father, Charlie, just returned to the courtroom for the first time in over a month since he had been hospitalized with some kind of breakdown. He appeared very shaken, with his eyes looking distant and under stress as he stumbled through the room to Azaria where he started loudly balling on his son’s shoulder.