Upward of 2,000 people gathered in central Tel Aviv on Tuesday night to show support for Elor Azariya, the IDF soldier who was formally charged with manslaughter the day before for killing a neutralized terrorist in Chevron.
“We are going through a very difficult period,” Elor’s father Charlie told Arutz Sheva at the rally, “but the nation is behind us, making us stronger, and we will win.”
“Be strong for me, and we pray that before Pesach, you too will be a free man.”
Israeli police notified the public that major thoroughfares would be closed for the demonstration, out of concern that there might be violence, though none was reported.
Speaking on Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called for calm on all sides of an emotionally charged issue.
“Our soldiers are not murderers. They act against murderers and I hope that a way will be found to balance between the action and the overall context of the event. In the meantime, I suggest that everyone lower the flames.”
Meanwhile on Tuesday, Zionist Camp leader Isaac Herzog urged people to stay away from the rally in Tel Aviv.
“The honor of the IDF, which is our national spine, is facing a brutal, wicked, cynical, and damaging attack,” Herzog said. “I understand the pain of the Azaria family but I call upon them not to turn their harsh and complex incident into a campaign against the IDF…” He also pointed out that no senior member of the Likud or Zionist Camp was attending the rally.