Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman strongly defended Elor Azaria, the soldier currently being tried for killing a neutralized terrorist in Hebron in March, as well as a soldier from the ultra-Orthodox Netzach Yehuda battalion who is suspected of killing an unarmed Palestinian this past Friday in Silwad, near Ramallah.
“The media needs to remember that only a court can declare someone guilty in Israel, not the media,” said Liberman. “Elor Azariah and the soldier from the Netzach Yehuda battalion are innocent until the court decides otherwise.”
Liberman made his remarks as he toured unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev on Monday with Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel.
Liberman added that “it pays to remember that soldiers who are fighting terror day and night cannot go on missions with a lawyer next to them, and sometimes their judgment call is correct and sometimes not.”
Avigdor Liberman has served as one of Azaria’s primary defenders within the government and has attended court proceedings in support of the soldier. Azaria claimed that he feared that the incapacitated terrorist was wearing a suicide vest, a claim which the prosecution has sought to refute, contending that Azariah told his company commander that “all terrorists need to be killed.”
Azariah’s trial took a dramatic turn on Monday, when his platoon commander testified that he had also feared that the terrorist was carrying a bomb and had ordered his soldiers to keep their distance until sappers arrived.