The Israeli soldier currently facing manslaughter charges for the March killing of an incapacitated Palestinian attacker in Hebron has landed in even more hot water after a series of social media posts he and his family published two years ago against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu surfaced on Saturday.
According to Channel 2, the offensive Facebook posts started circulating on internal Likud forums Saturday afternoon, raising the ire of party members and backers within the party of Netanyahu.
A July 15, 2014 Facebook post by Sgt. Elor Azaria criticized Netanyahu for considering a ceasefire with Hamas and urged him to hit the terror group even harder. “Kill them all,” Azaria wrote, later adding “[Rabbi Meir] Kahane was right,” a slogan often used by those in the extreme right in reference to the virulently anti-Arab rabbi whose Kach party was banned from the Knesset over incitement to racial hatred. His ideology still inspires many Jewish extremists.
In response to the post, Azaria’s father Charlie wrote “Kahane the sage was right; the next generation should rise,” while his mother added “Death to those who harm Jews. Enough with the humanism; if needed, kill women and children.”
The post and responses were published a week after Operation Protective Edge began on July 8 that year.
In April this year, almost a month after the March 24 incident in which Arazia was filmed shooting Abdel Fattah al-Sharif in the head — nearly 15 minutes after Sharif was shot and wounded by soldiers he had tried to stab — Netanyahu called Azaria’s father, later urging “balance” in the contentious legal proceedings against him.
“As the father of a soldier and as prime minister, I would like to reiterate: The IDF backs its soldiers,” Netanyahu said at the time.
“I am convinced that an examination of the event in Hebron will be done responsibly and sagaciously. Knowing the military justice system, I’m convinced that the court will consider all circumstances regarding the incident,” he added.
The killing made international headlines and the subsequent trial has sparked much controversy and inflamed political tensions in Israel, with far-right supporters and some politicians accusing the defense establishment of abandoning one of its own.
Netanyahu was widely slammed for the call.
On Saturday, after the 2014 Facebook posts surfaced, the manager of Netanyahu’s Facebook page called on the soldier to apologize.
“Azaria must apologize. The prime minister was the first to understand the family’s pain,” Lior Harari told Channel 2.
The Azarias said in a statement that the social media posts were “irrelevant to the trial.”
The posts “were written in the past, [when] Elor was an adolescent. The Azaria family has great respect for the prime minister,” the statement read.