On Wednesday, January 3rd אלאור אזריה an IDF soldier was convicted of manslaughter after shooting an injured terrorist who no longer was a threat. The soldier’s act sparked widespread public debate in Israel, that became a continuation of an already widespread debate over how one should implement the Rules of engagement orders in the wake of the wave of Palestinian political violence. Because of that we would like to share some details of the case-
On 24 March 2016, nine months ago, two Palestinian terrorists stabbed an Israeli soldier and moderately wounded him in תל רומיידה neighborhood of חברון. Both terrorists were shot and seriously wounded by Israeli soldiers. One of the terrorists soon died. His companion, עבד אל-פתאח א-שריף, lying incapacitated on the road, was shot in the head and killed by אלאור אזריה, an IDF medic serving in Shimshon Battalion of the Kfir Brigade. A video published by בצלם, showing an IDF soldier approaching the supine al-Sharif and shooting him in the head from less than two metres, went viral on Israeli social media, sparking controversy.
This topic is so controversial for two reasons. One is the character of עאבד אל-פתאח א-שריף – a terrorist who murdered Israeli citizens. For that reason many people see justice in killing him and feel no mercy for him.
The other reason is the character of אלאור אזריה – an Israeli soldier who serves in the IDF, just like most 18-year-olds in Israel. Because of that so many people see אלאור as “our child”. It’s so easy to relate to him, as many of us, or our sons and daughters, can end up in the same situation.
However, by shooting the incapacitated terrorist, אלאור practically served as the judge and the executor in this case. Doing that stands against the morality code of the IDF, and the values of Israeli democracy. No matter what the terrorist did, that’s for the judge and the law to decide, as the soldier was not in any danger at that given moment.
We feel that the real issue in this case is how different politicians and public figures used this for their political profit. At the end of the day, אלאור is only one soldier who is a victim of a very complicated reality IDF soldiers have to face. Politicians from the right will say this reality is the Palestinian terrorism, and politicians from the left will say this reality is the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. But actually this reality is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, on every aspect of it, and on that everybody can agree.
At the end of the day the court has made it’s ruling, and that’s what’s important – to be able to accept the court ruling regardless of your position on the case. It is a key element in any functioning democracy, as it is in Israel.