Azaria’s Sergeant: I Would Have Shot Downed Terrorist Myself

YERUSHALAYIM -
Elior Azaria in a military court in Jaffa on Monday. (Flash90)
Elior Azaria in a military court in Jaffa. (Flash90)

Sergeant A., the officer who was injured in a stabbing attack in Chevron on Purim morning that led to the elimination of a terrorist, testified Sunday at the ongoing trial of IDF soldier Elior Azaria — and he said that there was indeed a danger and fear that the terrorist might set off a hidden explosive.

Azaria is on trial for shooting at a terrorist in Chevron on Purim morning when he was neutralized and on the ground, after having been shot when he tried to stab soldiers. He is being tried on charges of manslaughter and conduct unbecoming an IDF soldier. Evidence on the culpability of the soldier has been mixed, with footage and testimony surfacing that either indicate that the soldier was justified in his claimed fears that the terrorist, who was still alive, could have set off a bomb he may have been carrying on his person, or that he was completely immobilized and “deserved to die,” as some witnesses have claimed the soldier said.

In his testimony, A. spoke about the moment he was attacked, saying that he himself had tried to shoot the terrorist but did not succeed. He tried to shoot the terrorist, he said, because he feared he would activate a bomb he might have been carrying in his heavy jacket. Azaria himself had said the same thing in his own statement to authorities.

“Suddenly I felt that I was stabbed in the shoulder and again in the back. I turned around and saw the terrorist pushing me,” said A. “I thought he might be carrying an explosive device that was not yet set off. I started running after him and saw him looking at me. He saw that I was unable to activate my weapon, so he started running back to me. Then I heard a shot and saw the terrorist fall to the ground. I didn’t know if he had a bomb but I wanted to make sure he was neutralized, so again I tried to shoot but was unable to. Later I figured that he had died so I did not take further action.”

At that point, he said, Azaria rushed to help him and attempted to stop his bleeding, said A. “They put me on a stretcher and I heard soldiers shouting that the terrorist was still alive and that he had a bomb. I realized that the incident was not over and that he was apparently getting ready to set off an explosive. I got very nervous because I was barely two meters away from him, without my bulletproof vest.” He added that he had wanted to shoot the terrorist himself in order to avoid just this kind of situation.

The soldier added that he had been offered a special certificate of merit after the incident, but in the wake of the situation he had declined to accept it.