The trial of Elor Azariya, the Kfir Brigade soldier charged with manslaughter over the March 24th shooting of a wounded terrorist, reached a critical stage in court when his platoon commander was called to testify. He backed up Azariya’s claims and testified that he had legitimate concerns to suspect that the terrorist was carrying an explosive device.
Azariya, who was serving in Hebron, had responded to a terror attack which left a soldier wounded when he spotted one of the two terrorists involved. The prone wounded terrorist who was wearing an unseasonably warm jacket, often a tell-tale sign of a concealed bomb, aroused Azariya’s suspicions when he began moving. Azariya shot the terrorist dead.
The company commander, Tom Naaman, had dismissed Azariya’s concerns and testified against him.
In his testimony, the platoon commander supported Azariya and said he too was concerned that the wounded terrorist may have been carrying an explosive device, and had even warned soldiers to keep their distance. He added that the terrorist had not yet been checked and cleared by the bomb squad and was still a possible threat.
Other questions about the company commander’s behavior came up in the testimonies. Azariya claimed that Naaman struck him following the shooting incident. The platoon commander revealed that Naaman had been reprimanded following the shooting incident.
The platoon commander also revealed that all platoon commanders in the company had been ordered to discuss the incident with the soldiers under their command and impress upon them the severity of the situation even before the investigation had finished interviewing soldiers in connection with the incident, which might have predisposed the conclusions of the investigation.