Combat battalion threatens to desert if Elor Azaria is convicted

The other soldiers in Elor Azaria’s combat battalion are reportedly threatening to desert if Azaria is convicted of manslaughter.

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Shlomo Vile,

Elor Azaria on trial
Elor Azaria on trial
photo: Flash 90

The tension is high in anticipation of the verdict in the trial of “the Hevron shooter.” Elor Azaria, tried for manslaughter in the death of a wounded Palestinian Arab terrorist in Hevron last March. Azkara testified that he feared the terrorist was about to attack again, a scenario that has occurred in the past.

A report on Mabat - Channel 1 says that according to a fellow soldier, “If Azaria is convicted, the entire Shimshon battalion intends to get up and leave.”

The soldiers have been deeply shaken in the last months not only by the fact that their fellow soldier is on trial for killing a terrorist who had come to kill them, but also by the behavior of their commanders in their court testimony and their lack of support for Azaria. "The feeling is that they found a scapegoat and they pounced on him," said one soldier.

According to the report, after Azaria’s arrest, 17 of his fellow soldiers got together and decided to go AWOL in response to the way the system was treating their buddy. “They refused to go back to Hevron,” said Tzahi Eliahu, of Moshav Ein Yaakov, who hosted the soldiers’ meeting. “They wouldn’t even hear of it. They refused to fight, refused to hold a weapon. Some of them have remained away to this day. They were sent to jail, went AWOL, got medical deferrals, and all of them left the battalion.”

Another soldier, Charlie, told Mabat: “We were really shocked. We wanted to throw down our weapons and go home. This really scared the combat soldiers. They are afraid to respond. When we stop a person and he resists, we are afraid to respond. Soldiers now prefer not to have to act.”

The report repeats the same story from several different fighters, each of whom described his desire to drop his weapon and go home. They mentioned plans for a rebellion and spoke about their anger at the commanders.

The IDF Spokesman responded to the report, stating “Any allegation of an organized desertion among soldiers is groundless.”

A verdict in the trial is expected within the next three weeks.