Israeli Politicians, From Right To Left, Slam Azaria Conviction
YNET – A number of senior ministers voiced their opposition against a unanimous decision reached Wednesday morning to convict Sgt. Elor Azaria for manslaughter after shooting dead a seriously wounded terrorist who carried out a stabbing attack just moments earlier in Hebron last year.
Speaking after the verdict had been reached, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman expressed regret at the outcome, saying “I don’t like the verdict”, but urged everyone to respect the legal judgement.
“We are all obligated to show restraint. What is important is that despite the verdict, the security apparatus will assist the soldier and his family in any way possible,” he promised.
Lieberman also called upon the public to refrain from attacking the security system, the IDF and Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot
“The calls that I have heard in the last half hour is fundamentally wrong. The chief of staff is the commander of the army. He really works day and night, 24 hours, 7 days a week for the security of Israel…Any attacks on the IDF or on the chief of staff have no place.”
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett also came out swinging against the decision, calling on authorities to grant immediate pardon to Azaria.
“I expect the Defense Minister to be loyal to his endless promises and grant immediate pardon to Elor Azaria so that he does not sit even a single day in prison,” the minister of education said.
“Today the soldier, who killed a terrorist who deserved to die and who tried to slaughter a soldier, was put in handcuffs and found guilty. We need to say the truth. The process was contaminated from the beginning. The terrible statements made by the political establishment even before the investigation was opened, the absence of the soldier himself from the military investigation itself and more, caused irreversible damage to Elor,” he added.
Bennett’s comments were made in reference to remarks made by former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon who immediately made public declarations condemning Azaria after the incident.
Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri (Shas) said that while he respected the decision and that the court had done the work required of it, “from here the right way is granting pardon. The conduct of the trial and the suffering that the soldier and his family endured justifies the granting of a pardon.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, released a statement decrying what he deemed inflammatory statements by politicians, and urged the population to refrain from violence.
“I call on everyone to end the violence and stop the irresponsible statements coming from within the political system. It’s not the way of the Jewish people, of the State of Israel or of the IDF,” he said. “The court has made its decision and now we also have a role; to prevent a rift in our society and to ensure that no harm comes to the people’s army. The State of Israel is powerful because of our wonderful military, our officers and our soldiers and because we are a country of law and order.”
Also commenting on the results of the trial was MK Amir Peretz (Labor) who insisted that the decision was not one deserving of celebration.
“This is not a day for cheering. I call on everyone to respect the court ruling. Its independence and authority is part of the army’s resilience and moral standing,” the former defense minister said.
“The IDF has always been and will continue to be a moral army. Among other things due to the complete separation of politics, public opinion and its professional considerations.
Echoing the sentiments by Lieberman, Peretz came to Eisenkot’s defense: “Heading the army is a brave Chief of Staff, who understands his overall responsibility, an outstanding combatant and a moral and dignified man. We must honor the chain of command starting with him down to the last and most recent recruit.”
Peretz added: “Every soldier must know that the chain of command and rules of ethics apply also to the reality of the West Bank and should ignore reckless politicians who scatter statements and call for opening fire and shooting to kill without any actual authority.
“I expect right wing MKs to honor the verdict and cease their irresponsible assaults of the IDF and its commanders”
MK Shelly Yachimovich (Zionist Union) was among the MKs coming out in support of the verdict: “The conviction of Elor Azaria is justified, and anyone who attacks the court now is harming the very heart of Israeli statehood. However, at the end of the legal process it will be right to weigh up pardoning Azaria.
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