Elor Azaria has been tried by an Israeli military court and found guilty of manslaughter after murdering a helpless Palestinian alleged to have attacked and wounded an Israeli solder. Unfortunately for the Israeli military who condone such attacks, this murder was captured on a mobile phone, shared and went viral.

azariaThe killer last March, Elor Azaria, was actually an Israeli Army medic. He was filmed firing a bullet into the head of Abed al-Fattah al-Sharif, a 21-year-old Palestinian, as he lay wounded on the ground in the city of Hebron.

After Azaria's arrest, there was an outpouring of sympathy for the soldier from the Israeli public, politicians and fellow soldiers.Netanyahu and many ministers have called for him to be pardoned. A Jerusalem Post poll shows a large majority calling for the killer to be released.

Aida Touma-Suleiman, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, told Al Jazeera there was a growing fear in Israel that its soldiers might one day face scrutiny from bodies like the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Although thekill them all army top brass needed to act to assert control of the murder machine against do-it-yourself elements like Azaria, the trial was also largely for appearances sake, suggested Touma-Suleiman:

"In a clear-cut case like this, it is important for Israel to look as though it is taking war crimes seriously, otherwise the ICC might itself decide to investigate. But the case has caused problems because it has upset right-wing politicians and much of the Israeli public, who expect absolute impunity for soldiers."

The defence case in other - extremely rare - examples of Israeli soldiers tried after a flagrant execution of a helpless Palestinian has been that "confirming the kill" is standard operating practice in the Israeli Army. Israel has been practising murder of innocents since its inception. The father of the nation, David ben Gurion was clear on the need for the Army to use terror against civilians.

"What is necessary is cruel and strong reactions. We need precision in time, place, and casualties. If we know the family, we must strike mercilessly, women and children included. Otherwise, the reaction is inefficient. At the place of action, there is no need to distinguish between guilty and innocent."
Ben Gurion's Diary entry, 1 January 1948

Any settler-colonial project has a built-in tendency to genocidal violence, that may or may not become actual. Israel demonstrates increasing levels of support for genocidal violence against Palestinians.

Mick Napier
West Calder
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