Elor Azraya, the soldier who summarily executed Abed al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif as he lay on the street immobile and unarmed yesterday, is suspected of murder.
In his defense, his lawyer Eyal Beserglick said Azraya “acted in accordance with the rules of engagement as suggested by his superiors.”
It’s unclear which superiors the lawyer is referring to, but it could be any number of figures in the political and military echelon who have commanded Israeli soldiers to shoot Palestinians deemed attackers dead on-the-spot.
That’s precisely what he did. And now Israel’s top brass is hanging the killer out to dry.
Since the graphic video released by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem went viral, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon distanced themselves from the killing, however stopping short of condemning the killer. But just a few months ago, they were inciting soldiers to kill and guaranteed them full legal backing.
Here are the statements from October translated from official videos posted to Netanyahu’s Youtube account, and statements following the execution.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon
October 9, 2015: “Right now is it required to respond quickly to any local attack to eliminate the terrorist stabber or the perpetrator stone thrower and the like, immediately, on the spot.”
March 24, 2016: “Even as we are forced to fight our enemies and overcome them in battle, we are equally obligated to uphold our mores. To be human.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
October 14th, 2015, speaking to paramilitary border police units: “I know that it requires your discretion, but have no doubt: You have complete backing – complete! – from me, from the Israeli government, and in my opinion from the nation in Israel.”
March 24, 2016: “What happened in Hebron doesn’t represent the values of the IDF. The IDF expects its soldiers to behave level-headedly and in accordance with the rules of engagement.”
Israeli Military Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot
October 8, 2015: “Our policy of use of force is very clear. The IDF has complete freedom of action in order to to fulfill the mission to restore security.”
March 25, 2016: Israeli army spokesperson speaking on behalf on Eizenkot: “The chief of staff views the incident with severity and has ordered a full probe. This is not the IDF, these are not the values of the IDF and these are not the values of the Jewish people.”
Other politicians who have backed the shoot-to-kill policy have been silent in the wake of yesterday’s killing.
– Read more: Israeli officials Who Issued Directive to Execute Palestinians Hang Hebron Killer out to Dry – Mondoweiss