Elor Azariya
Elor Azariya Miriam Alster, Flash90

The platoon commander of Elor Azariya, the Kfir Brigade soldier charged with manslaughter over the March 24th shooting of a wounded terrorist, testified in court on Monday, backing up claims by the defendant that he had legitimate concerns the terrorist was carrying an explosive device.

Azariya, who was serving in Hevron, had responded to a terror attack which left a soldier wounded when he spotted one of the two terrorists involved. The terrorist had been wounded, but was moving in such a way as to arouse Azariya’s suspicions, he claims, and was wearing an unseasonably warm jacket, often a tell-tale sign of a concealed bomb.

While Azariya’s company commander, Tom Naaman, has dismissed his claims and testified against him in court, the platoon commander said he too was concerned that the wounded terrorist may have been carrying an explosive device, adding that he warned soldiers to keep their distance. The platoon commander added that the terrorist had not yet been checked and cleared by the bomb squad and thus should still be considered a possible threat.

The platoon commander also testified that Naaman was reprimanded following the shooting incident, but was unaware of the reason for the censure. Azariya had in testimony claimed that Naaman struck him following the shooting incident, though it is unclear whether the censure was related to this claim.

Responding to questions by the defense, the platoon commander said that soldiers who were later questioned in regards to the case had been told by their commanding officers that the “incident was very serious”.

He noted that all platoon commanders in the company had been ordered to discuss the incident with the soldiers under their command and impress upon them the severity of the situation.

When asked why such discussions were held before the investigation had finished interviewing soldiers in connection with the incident, the platoon commander replied that those were the orders that he and other platoon commanders had received.

The defense pressed him on the issue, asking if he did not see discussions intended to emphasize the seriousness of the incident as creating a bias in soldiers who were yet to be questioned, to which he responded that he hadn’t thought of it at the time.