Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said police probes into his affairs are based on a “mess of falsehoods” and will “come to nothing.”
In an interview with Channel 2 News Saturday night, excerpts of which were released early, the prime minister was asked why he thought he was the subject of numerous, ongoing police inquiries into possible wrongdoing on his part.
“I have no idea. I have no idea,” he said. “There are many attempts to heap a mess of falsehoods upon (police). And I say again what I have said many times before, and you’ll see it will be so: It will come to nothing, because there is nothing.”
The premier also defended his supportive phone call earlier this year to the father of an Israeli soldier currently on trial for the killing of an incapacitated Palestinian attacker in Hebron.
Netanyahu, whose conversation with Charlie Azaria in late March was criticized by some as inappropriate — as judges have yet to rule in the case of Azaria’s son Elor — told Channel 2 News he had no regrets on the matter.
“You know what I told him? Word for word: Place your trust in the IDF, in the chief of staff, in our commanders and soldiers and our justice system.”
Netanyahu added: “I’ve called many distressed parents whose children fell [in combat] or were declared MIA…and here [too] we have a matter of great distress for Israelis, I want you to understand that.”
Azaria has been charged with manslaughter after being filmed shooting Palestinian assailant Abdel Fattah al-Sharif in the head on March 24, nearly 15 minutes after Sharif was shot by soldiers after he tried to stab them in Hebron.
The soldier testified in July that he feared al-Sharif’s body was fitted with a bomb. Prosecutors have disputed this.
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.
“There are countless parents who see their children, male and female soldiers, who are in an almost impossible situation,” Netanyahu said. “On the one hand they need to defend themselves, and on the other it’s a problem — not to have a light finger on the trigger. And that’s not easy.”
Netanyahu said he drew on his own past experience as an officer in the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit in understanding soldiers’ conundrum.
“I was in that situation. I faced many instances in which we clashed or almost clashed with the enemy. I had to decide when to shoot and when not to shoot. It wasn’t easy for an officer in Sayeret Matkal and I think it isn’t easy for any soldier.
“So that statement — let the military decide — was correct not just for this father but for all fathers and mothers.”