Elor Azaria, the IDF soldier who was recently released after serving nine months in a military prison on manslaughter charges, is the “most threatened individual in Israel,” according to Likud MK Nava Boker – and as a result he should be granted a license to carry a weapon to defend himself. “Or if authorities refuse to do that, he should be provided with a personal bodyguard, because it is just a matter of time before he comes to harm,” she said in a radio interview Thursday.
As a convicted felon, Azaria cannot legally carry a weapon, as he would not be granted a license. Released last month, Azaria was convicted in February 2017 on charges of manslaughter and conduct unbecoming an IDF soldier, after shooting at a terrorist in Chevron on Purim a year earlier, when the terrorist was neutralized and on the ground, after he had been shot when he tried to stab soldiers. At his trial, defense attorneys stressed Azaria’s sterling record as a soldier, and the fact that the possibility of a further terror attack – in which the terrorist who was on the ground might set off a bomb that he could have been carrying on his person – justified the shooting, or at least provided reasonable grounds for Azaria’s having acted the way he did. After several appeals, his sentenced was reduced, and a parole board knocked off a third of the resulting 14-month sentence, enabling him to go home in May.
But Azaria – and his family – continue to be haunted by the incident, Boker said. Throughout the highly publicized trial and subsequent imprisonment of Azaria, the family has been under almost constant threat by anonymous elements who make threatening phone calls, leave threatening notes in their mailbox, and send them items like bullets, meant to inform them that they are marked for attack. Vehicles owned by family members have been vandalized on more than one occasion. It’s not clear who the responsible parties are, but the family believes they are associated with Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Since Elor returned home, the number and severity of the threats has only increased, Boker said. “There are public social media posts calling for his murder, and his family has gotten photoshopped images of soldiers wallowing in blood,” she told 103 Radio. “There is no doubt that Elor Azaria is in real danger. He needs to be granted the right to defend himself. I have discussed this with the Defense Ministry but have not yet gotten a response.”
This has not been an easy issue for her, either, she said. “I get a lot of flack from leftists for this, including personal insults and so forth. People have written to me saying that it is too bad that it was only my husband who was killed in the Carmel forest fire, and not me.” Boker’s husband, Lior Boker, z”l, was killed in 2010 after he was badly injured trying to rescue passengers on a bus transporting prisoners from a prison that had become engulfed in flames.
Azaria’s jailing was a flashpoint among many Israelis, with those on the right complaining that army brass were placing restrictions on soldiers that would endanger their lives at the expense of protecting terrorists, while proponents of jailing Azaria on the left claiming that the sentence was necessary in order to ensure that soldiers do not take security matters into their own hands.