In an interview with a right-wing Israeli newspaper, Elor Azaria, said he had “no remorse whatsoever” for killing an incapacitated Palestinian in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron in 2016. One might say that Azaria is simply a bad apple and does not reflect the behavior or attitudes of Israeli occupying soldiers. The problem is, there are many documented videos of Israeli forces behaving in such a callous way, with overwhelming support from the Israeli public.
“I’m glad it’s over”, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, as Elor Azarya, the soldier-medic who shot the incapacitated Palestinian suspect Abdel Fatah Al Sharif, returned home from his prison term served for ‘manslaughter’, after merely 9 months. Azarya was greeted like a real hero when arriving home, with Israeli flags and signs saying “It’s so good to have you home, the soldier of us all,” and “Welcome home, Elor the hero.”
Israeli justice is defined by two events on Monday: the military parole board further reduced Elor Azarya’s prison sentence for killing an incapacitated Palestininian suspect, and a military appeals court rejected Ahed Tamimi’s appeal for an open trial on charges of slapping an Israeli soldier occupying her home.
The Israeli paper Maariv has reported that President Reuven Rivlin might grant a pardon to Elor Azarya, the soldier-medic who shot and killed an incapacitated Palestinian at point-blank range in March 2016, despite having refused to do so last month.
55 Israeli lawmakers including the Prime Minister and several ministers have petitioned the President Reuven Rivlin to reconsider his refusal to pardon the soldier-medic-killer Elor Azarya. Azarya is likely to get out of prison next spring, but he is so popular in Israel these lawmakers don’t want him to spend the winter in prison.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin plays bad cop to Defense Minister Lieberman’s good cop. Rivlin refused to pardon former soldier-medic Elor Azarya in the Hebron execution of March 2016. Azarya’s sentence has already been cut so he will likely get out of prison next spring. Lieberman called on Rivlin to “mend the tears in society and the effect of the event and the trial upon IDF soldiers and the youth awaiting draft.”
Elor Azarya had “endured a lot”, said an Israeli military spokesman, announcing Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot’s decision to cut four months off the soldier-medic’s already lenient 18-month sentence for killing a wounded, immobile Palestinian alleged attacker by a bullet to the head at point blank on the street in Hebron in 2016.
In a recent video, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu slammed the new Hamas charter saying, “[Hamas] brainwashes kids inside suicide camps,” before throwing the document in a trash can. But Jonathan Ofir asks – what about the ways Israeli institutions are brainwashing children to hate Palestinians?
Over the weekend, an Israeli activist campaigning to pardon a soldier who shot and killed a wounded Palestinian in Hebron last year, held a costume contest for children dressed as the soldier for the Jewish holiday of Purim.
Last week, Israeli medic-soldier Elor Azarya was given an excessively lenient sentence of 1.5 years in prison for killing Abdel Fattah Al Sharif in Hebron. The military court based its conclusion in part on Azarya’s “positive personality and his being a normative person”. Yet this was the same person who wrote “kill them all” on social media as Israel considered a ceasefire with Hamas during the 2014 Gaza onslaught. This may seem to be a contradiction, but Jonathan Ofir writes the Azarya case cannot be seen as disconnected from the overall genocidal vein within Israeli society that he and his actions represent.