Thousands of Israelis rallied in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Tuesday in support of an army medic who was caught on video last month executing a wounded Palestinian suspect following a knife attack in the occupied West Bank.
The medic, Sgt. Elor Azaria, 19, was charged with manslaughter by an Israeli military court on Monday for firing a single bullet into the head of Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, killing him, on March 24 in the city of Hebron.
Sharif was one of two young Palestinians suspected of lightly wounding an Israeli soldier in an area of the city inhabited by Jewish settlers
Haaretz reported that Azaria’s supporters shouted slogans including, “He’s a hero,” and “Release the soldier.” The soldier’s mother thanked the crowd of about 2,000, according to a police estimate, and reminded her son that “from a young age, you wanted to be a combat soldier and give back to your country.”
A photo posted by Arab-Israeli lawmaker, Ahmed Tibi showed a demonstrator holding a banner displaying the words “Kill them all.
Dan Cohen, an independent US journalist on the ground, reported that the crowd was also chanting ‘death to Arabs.’ “This seems more like a celebration of murder,” he wrote on Twitter.
The Intercept reported that polls show a majority of Israelis oppose the military’s decision to prosecute the soldier, and Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, backed away from his initial condemnation of the shooting.