Ex-Israeli army official defends soldier on trial: ‘The fate of terrorists is to die’


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A former Israel Defense Forces deputy chief of staff said that any supposition of innocence for an Israeli soldier on trial for the killing of a downed Palestinian assailant was “trampled on.”

Uzi Dayan, nephew of the late Gen. Moshe Dayan, testified Monday in the trial of Sgt. Elor Azaria, 19, of Ramle, in Jaffa Military Court.

“I don’t know whether Azaria did wrong or not,” Dayan said. “His right to innocence has been trampled on. He was judged on Facebook. I submitted my opinion and concerns about the influence of this on soldiers in the field. Every day of the trial damages the IDF and influences soldiers.”

Azaria, a medic in the elite Kfir Brigade, shot the assailant, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, in the head as he lay on the ground where he was subdued in the March 24 attack. Sharif and another attacker had stabbed Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city of Hebron.

The shooting was captured on video, and Azaria was arrested the same day and indicted nearly a month later. Autopsy reports showed that the shots by Azaria killed Sharif.

In response to prosecutor’s questions, Dayan defended the killing of terrorists and Azaria’s actions.

“I have given orders to kill terrorists with no connection to the question in the same moment about whether there was danger. Terrorists need to die. The fate of terrorists is to die,” Dayan testified, according to Ynet. “Even if you don’t know whether the person is a terrorist or not, you have an obligation to protect your life and that of others.”

Azaria’s father, Charlie, appeared in court Monday for the first time since suffering a stroke several weeks ago.

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