Elor Azariya sits with his family as verdict handed down
Elor Azariya sits with his family as verdict handed down Flash90

Nobel Prize laureate Prof. Yisrael (Robert) Aumann spoke with Arutz Sheva about the military court's decision to convict Sgt. Elor Azariya for manslaughter for shooting a wounded terrorist who carried out a stabbing attack in Hevron.

"There are two problems here." said Prof. Aumann, who received the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2005 and is an internationally famed expert on game theory. "We are confused because we approach this like manslaughter or like a normal criminal act. We act as though [everything] was calm and then suddenly someone stood up and killed someone [else]."

"But's that's not how it is. We are at war. A real, ongoing war. The War of Independence,and afterwards the Sinai Campaign, the Six Day War, the Yom Kippur War, and Operation Peace for the Galilee (The First Lebanon War) are not separate wars. We are not living in peace and tranquility [interrupted] every few years by a war. We have been constantly at war since the 1920s, and in war you kill the soldiers of the other side, even when they do not pose an [immediate] threat to you."

According to Prof. Aumann western powers recognized that the killing of civilians on the enemy's side was acceptable during the two World Wars. "While we [in Israel] try not to kill civilians, that is a modern [notion], because during World War II in which Europe, the UK, and the US - those champions of morality - participated, they mercilessly killed civilians. They bombed cities to kill civilians, and there was no problem with it. Just look at what happened in Hiroshima."

"Let's accept that nowadays we do not kill civilians. But here this was a soldier on the enemy's side, and in wars you kill soldiers, even when they do not pose an [immediate] threat to you."

Prof. Aumann criticized the military judges who from their ivory tower judge a field in which they have no personal experience. "We're not talking about an event in a peaceful residential neighborhood. This is war, and in a war you must react quickly. There is no time to think about whether [the terrorist] is a threat or is not a threat, and even if you think he isn't a threat he still might be [a threat]."

"These judges sat in a room for months discussing what the soldier should have thought, but he had to respond that instant." he said.

Prof. Aumann accused leftist organizations such as B'Tselem, which provided the video of the shooting which sparked the national controversy over Azariya's actions, of acting to harm the State of Israel. "I believe that this is not the first case in which a terrorist was killed after he had carried out his attack, even after he had been neutralized. But this time B'Tselem was there to film it."

"The killing of the terrorist strikes me as an act of war, and is an acceptable action. It was acceptable in all previous instances when the terrorist was killed who was no longer a threat. Unfortunately we allow these organizations of the extreme left to lead the national discussion. Even in Amona it is not the government which said there was a problem, but [a leftist organization]. Yesh Din [is the organization which] went to court. This is how extreme leftist organizations are leading the national discourse, and it is not appropriate." he said.

Prof. Aumann explained how game theory, which the field in which he won the Nobel Prize, shows how the conviction of Azariya can endanger Israel's national security. "The bottom line of game theory is the incentives that you create in your movements, and when the judges make this sort of decision they speak to the soldiers and the civilians of the nation, and that says something to the enemy. What you say to the soldiers is: 'Sir, don't get into trouble. If you are in a place where there is an attack, just run. Not because of the terrorist attack or the enemy, but because of those who sit in judgement."

According to Professor Aumann the verdict further incites Arab terrorists to attack Israeli soldiers and civilians. "It is true that it is currently considered acceptable for the Arabs to be a terrorist or a suicide [bomber], but there are some people who might want to live. And here we are creating an incentive that you can commit an act of terrorism, you can shoot p[and kill someone]. and then you can just raise your hands and no one will dare to hurt you."

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