Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Moti Almoz said he had no regrets about the army’s denouncement of the so-called Hebron shooting, in which Sgt. Elor Azaria shot and killed an already subdued Palestinian stabber in March.
“We realized right away that this was a very serious incident. Tomorrow morning I would do the exact same thing,” Almoz said during a panel discussion Monday at the annual Eilat Journalism Conference,
On the day of the shooting, Almoz issued a statement saying, “This is not the IDF, these are not the values of the IDF and these are not the values of the Jewish people.”
Azaria was caught on film shooting a disarmed, supine Palestinian man in the head 11 minutes after he was shot while carrying out a stabbing attack in Hebron, a flashpoint West Bank city, on March 24.
The soldier was charged with manslaughter, and the story has dominated Israeli media in the months since, with minute-to-minute updates coming out of the trial. Almoz has also caught flak from Azaria’s supporters for “abandoning” the soldier.
“This [news] could not have remained within the army,” Almoz said on Monday, defending the handling of the incident by senior IDF officers, including himself.
The IDF spokesperson also highlighted the damage he said was done by politicians who slammed the military for putting Azaria on trial.
“Soldiers are on social media many hours a day, and when they read that anyone wielding a knife should be killed, this causes a dilemma for the soldiers, since this contradicts the IDF rules of engagement,” said Almoz. “Fortunately, this hasn’t affected the soldiers.”
Almoz was speaking in a panel discussion titled “Trial by Media,” in which he spoke alongside journalists Roni Daniel, Baruch Kra, Shimon Riklin and Orly Goldklang as well as Yigal Dilmoni, deputy head of the the settlers’ umbrella Yesha Council.