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Man who threatened Azaria judges released to house arrest

Police see surge of incitement against members of a military court after manslaughter conviction of soldier who killed wounded Palestinian attacker

A 54-year-old man arrested for making threats against a judge in the military trial of IDF soldier Elor Azaria is escorted by prison guards into the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on January 5, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A 54-year-old man arrested for making threats against a judge in the military trial of IDF soldier Elor Azaria is escorted by prison guards into the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on January 5, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A Jerusalem man arrested overnight on suspicion of threatening judges on the military tribunal that found Sgt. Elor Azaria guilty of manslaughter Wednesday has been released to house arrest.

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court banned the suspect from using a computer, a phone or the internet for the next two weeks as part of the conditions for his release. He was also slapped with a restraining order keeping him away from lead judge Col. Maya Heller for three months, according to Army Radio.

The 54-year-old was arrested after posting a call for violence against three judges on Facebook.

A second person, a 22-year-old woman from Kiryat Gat, was arrested for a similar post in which she called on readers to attack the judges, including urging grenade attacks against Heller.

She was earlier released to house arrest on condition that she refrain from contacting Heller. She also agreed not to post on Facebook for 30 days.

Passions are running high after the judges, who sit on the Jaffa Military Court, ruled that Azaria’s deadly shooting of Palestinian stabber, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif in Hebron, in March amounted to manslaughter.

Azaria faces a sentencing hearing next week.

Supporters of Sgt. Elor Azaria hold his photo and shout slogans outside the Israeli military court in Tel Aviv on January 4, 2017. The Hebrew sign reads “Free Elor.” (AP/Oded Balilty)

The three military judges — Heller, Lt. Col. Carmel Wahabi and Lt. Col. Yaron Sitbon — have been given special protection details by the IDF.

Police say they have seen a wave of incitement online against the judges.

According to social media monitoring group Vigo, the last 24 hours have seen some 8,000 posts and messages online threatening violence over the Azaria conviction.

The company’s Raviv Tal told Channel 2 on Thursday that some 4,500 of the posts were directed against against Heller and another 2,500 against IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot.

Tal said that some 77 percent of posts on social media regarding Azaria were in support of the convicted solider.

The word “pardon” appears in a little over half the posts that appeared over the past day.

In the last year, Tal added, there were some 400,000 “violent” posts related to the Azaria trial.

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