Trial of Hevron soldier who shot Arab terrorist begins

The trial of Sergeant Elor Azaria, the Kfir Brigade soldier who shot dead an Arab terrorist in Hevron last March, began Monday morning  at Jaffa Military Court, with the accused being read his indictment.

“The soldier took several steps towards the terrorists, aimed at his head and fired a single bullet from short range. This the defendant did in contravention of the rules of engagement and without operational justification,” the indictment said.

Azaria was charged with manslaughter and inappropriate behavior last month at the Jaffa Military Court.

President of Jaffa Military Court, Colonel Maya Heller, military judge Lt. Col. Carmel  Wahabi and Judge Lt. Col. Yogev Yifrah, ordered the prosecution to file a reply within one week  a response to the request for mediation in the case. Heller also ruled: “There are no reasons that justify the soldier’s leaving detention for Independence Day, as he requested, therefore we reject this request.”

The judge criticized both the defense and the prosecution and warned of the weakness of the evidence against Azaria.

The incident occurred on March 24, when two terrorists armed with knives stabbed a soldier, moderately wounding him, at an IDF post near the Tel Rumeida neighborhood in Hevron. One of the terrorists was shot dead, but the second, Abed al Fatah a-Sharif, was neutralized and lay wounded on the ground.

A video filmed several minutes later by B’Tselem shows Azaria shooting the terrorist in the head.

Prosecutor Lt.-Col. Adoram Rigler said at the court hearing last April that “the terrorist who was shot by the soldier did not pose a risk to him or to anyone around him. There is a strong evidentiary basis to prove the indictment.”

The defense, meanwhile, claimed that “The testimony and evidence ruled out a vengeful motive for the shooting. The pathologist said she cannot rule out that the terrorist might have moved his hands.”

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