European Jewish Congress
Israel Press Review of 05/01/2017
Israeli Press Review
Israel Press Review of 05/01/2017

Major Headlines
  • Soldier convicted of manslaughter for lethal shooting of Palestinian terrorist

Sergeant Elor Azaria, who shot and killed a wounded attacker in Hebron, was found guilty of manslaughter by a three-judge panel in the Tel Aviv Military Court on Wednesday, Ha’aretz reports.

A number of senior Israeli politicians called for the soldier to be pardoned and Azaria's lawyer vowed to appeal the ruling. The months-long trial has highlighted deep rifts in Israeli society. Hundreds protested outside of the courtroom in Tel Aviv ahead of the verdict, clashing with police, counter-protesters and media.

At the decision reading, the judges said Azaria killed the wounded terrorist without any reason. The cause of the infamous Hebron shooting was not that he felt threatened, said the head of the panel.

 Following the conviction, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said "this is a difficult verdict" that he was not pleased with, but "I ask that we all respect the court's ruling and show restraint. What is important – despite the harsh verdict – is that the defence establishment help the family and this soldier. I call on the public not to lambast the IDF and the defence establishment. We must respect the ruling."

While reading from the court's decision, Justice Maya Heller rejected the claims made by the defence, saying Azaria's testimony was unreliable. The judge rejected the defence's two central claims that the Palestinian assailant was already dead and that Azaria felt threatened at the time of the shooting, saying "you can't have it both ways."

"The terrorist did not pose a threat," Heller said, adding that Azaria failed to act in accordance with Israeli army protocols.

Azaria, now 20, an Israeli Defence Forces medic, shot and killed Abd Fatah al-Sharif in Hebron in March last year. The shooting was captured on video by a Palestinian activist working for an Israeli human rights NGO and widely distributed. At the time of the shooting, Sharif was lying on the ground motionless after being shot while attempting to stab an Israeli soldier.

Click here to read the full article in Ha’aretz


  • Rivlin says Israelis should shun contact with European far-right

Indirectly rejecting overtures by Austria’s right-wing party toward Israel, President Reuven Rivlin has told Jewish leaders that he strongly opposes contact between Israeli officials and European parties with a history of antisemitism.

In a letter sent to Vienna’s Jewish Community and given to The Times of Israel by the president’s office on Wednesday, Rivlin said he would “never condone” meetings between representatives of Israel and “European parties of the far-right that are tainted with a history of antisemitism, Holocaust denial … or the promotion of racial hatred or intolerance.”

The president said he is “against any meetings by official representatives of Israel with representatives of such groups.”

Dated December 20, the letter came in response to one sent in November by European Jewish Congress Vice President Ariel Muzicant and Vienna Jewish Community head Oskar Deutsch that the community also emailed to the Associated Press.

The two complained that “certain politicians in Israel are willing to meet populist parties of the European extreme right,” including Austria’s Freedom Party, and asked Israeli leaders “to draw a very clear red line between us and those who represent hate, neo-Nazism and antisemitism.”

Last month, Israel’s Foreign Ministry put out a directive advising ministers against meeting a member of a Swedish far-right party visiting the country as part of a delegation of European and US lawmakers.

Click here to read the full article in Times of Israel


  • Jerusalem man arrested for incitement against Azaria judges

Police arrested a 54-year-old Jerusalem resident on Wednesday night who is suspected of inciting to violence against the judges who convicted Sergeant Elor Azaria of manslaughter, Yediot Aharonot reports.

The Jerusalem District Police said the man wrote a post on Facebook "expressing radical criticism of the judges' decision to convict the soldier Elor Azaria."

He was arrested after the police received the State Attorney's Office's approval to investigate the post.

"The Israel Police regularly monitors internet activity that deviates from the limits of legitimate expression of opinion and is suspected of being inciting," the police said in a statement.

"The Israel Police will not allow any incitement to violence against government and judicial institutions and will take a hard line against any publication that is considered incitement and could lead to actual harm to public officials," the statement went on to say. 

After the military court on Wednesday found Azaria guilty of manslaughter for shooting dead an already-neutralised terrorist in Hebron last year, social media was flooded with swear words, harsh language and incitement against the head of the judges' panel, Judge Colonel Maya Heller.

As a result, the IDF decided to assign a security detail to protect the three judges—Heller, Yaron Sitbon, Carmel Wahabi—as well as the chief military prosecutor in the case, Nadav Weissman.

Users on social media claimed that Heller was the sister of Tali Fahima, a left-wing activist who was convicted for her contacts with Zakaria Zubeidi, Jenin chief of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and served two years in prison.

"It's a disgrace for the State of Israel to allow an Israeli hater to judge a soldier, or to judge in the State of Israel at all," one poster wrote.

Another post said: "Maya Heller, you should be ashamed of yourself. Just like you destroyed this family's joy of life and health, so will God repay you."

There were also calls for soldiers to rebel against the IDF. One poster, alongside a photo of weapons, wrote: "Elor is going to jail—we're all going to jail." 

The incitement began outside the court on Wednesday, when Azaria supporters chanted to the IDF chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot: "Gadi, Gadi, beware. Rabin's looking for a friend," referring to the late Israeli prime minister who was murdered by a right-wing terrorist..

Click here to read the full article in Yediot Aharonot

 

Thursday, January 05, 2017
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