Liberman: Reporters keeping soldiers from doing their jobs

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman accuses the Israeli press of preventing IDF soldiers from being able to do their job over fear that they will be judged harshly in the media.

“I would expect from the Israeli press to work hard to strengthen the Israeli deterrent capability against our enemies and not deter Israeli soldiers from fighting terrorists and fighting terror,” Liberman says during a tour of southern Bedouin communities.

“I want a free press, not a press that deters IDF soldiers,” he adds, during a tour of southern Israel.

Liberman’s comments come amid two developing cases in which soldiers have been suspected of killing Palestinians without cause.

Elor Azaria is currently standing trial for an incident in March in which he shot dead a disarmed Palestinian assailant following a stabbing attack in the West Bank city of Hebron.

Elor Azaria, center, during a hearing in his manslaughter trial at a military court in Jaffa, August 28, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Elor Azaria, center, during a hearing in his manslaughter trial at a military court in Jaffa, August 28, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

In the second case, a soldier from the ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda Battalion shot and killed a Palestinian man who approached an army outpost near the West Bank settlement of Ofra on Friday. Though he has not been formally charged, the Netzah Yehuda soldier has been questioned by Military Police “in connection with the killing,” an army official told The Times of Israel.

During the tour, Liberman tells reporters: “Remember that in Israel, like in every democratic country, the only one that convicts is the court of law. Not the press, but the court. So long as the person hasn’t been convicted, they are innocent, and that includes Elor Azaria and the soldier from Netzah Yehuda.”

“Another thing, I want to remind you that people are fighting terror on a daily basis, fighting terrorists, they can’t go out to a mission with an attorney at their side and therefore sometimes the thought process is correct and sometimes it is not,” Liberman says.

— Judah Ari Gross

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