On Wednedsay, 19-year-old IDF Sgt. Elor Azaria was convicted of manslaughter after a long and sensationalized trial. On Purim of this past year, two terrorists attacked a group of soldiers guarding in Hebron, stabbing and wounding one of them. One terrorist was shot and killed and the other shot and wounded.
Sgt. Azaria argued that he eliminated the terrorist after he was incapacitated because he feared the downed terrorist could be hiding explosives that he could detonate even when wounded.
The March 24th incident was filmed by a resident of the PA who worked for the B'tselem organization which brought the video to court.
It took place amid a wave of stabbings throughout the country including one that took the life of area resident Genadi Kaufman who was attacked in a similar manner near the Tomb of Machpela several months earlier. Many of the terrorists originated from the Hebron area and infiltrated into Israeli population centers.
Noam Arnon, Hebron's Hebrew language spokesperson stated, "the community expresses concern that this conviction could encourage more terrorist attacks and we urge the government to understand the implications."
He added that the community will continue friendly relations with the IDF soldiers who keep a watchful eye on trouble spots in the greater Hebron area and who enable the 700,000 annual tourists to visit the Tomb of Machpela and other holy sites in the city.
Yishai Fleisher, international spokesperson for the Jewish Community of Hebron was interviewed on BBC World Service about the incident. The following are excerpts:
Yishai Fleisher: The action of shooting a downed terrorist may or may not have been the best decision, but to try a soldier publicly, was a big mistake. We are at war with terror and this soldier was protecting the homeland from a gigantic Jihad that encircles us. We are sending the wrong signal to our young soldiers who now may think too many times before shooting somebody who came to kill Israelis.
BBC: Israel portrays itself as a democracy, so the rule of law should be honored.
Yishai Fleisher: The question is which rule of law, criminal justice law or the law of armed conflict? In terms of a war, an enemy combatant started knifing soldiers and was shot. Then he may have moved and may have been suspicious and a soldier shot him again. Under the rules of armed conflict that's not something you go to trial for. At the end of the day, the soldier shot a terrorist who came to kill. If he was a police officer in a regular setting, that would have been different. We're not talking about criminals who are trying to steal a car, but about people who are sworn to destroy the Jewish community in Hebron and Israel ...every Jihadist has to know that when they come to face Israel, when they come to kill Jewish civilians, they will lose their lives.
For the full interview, click here and scroll to 8:19.
Plan your visit to Hebron today:
United States contact info:
1760 Ocean Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11230
In Israel contact the offices of the Jewish Community of Hebron at:
* Hebron Purim Parade Brings Joy to Residents Despite Terror