Clashes as Hundreds Protest, Block Roads Outside of Hebron Shooter Elor Azaria's Trial

'Azaria was born free,' 'the people of Israel support and salute this hero,' right-wing protesters chant outside of courtroom as Elor Azaria faces verdict.

Supporters of Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, who is charged with manslaughter by the Israeli military, protest outside the military court in Tel Aviv on the verdict day for the soldier, Tel Aviv, Israel, January 4, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Supporters of Israeli soldier Elor Azaria protest outside the military court in Tel Aviv, January 4, 2017. Ilan Assayag

Hundreds blocked traffic and clashed with police outside the army headquarters in Tel Aviv while protesting the manslaughter conviction of Elor Azaria, an Israeli soldier who shot a wounded Palestinian assailant in Hebron in March.

Protesters gathered outside the building while the head of the three-judge panel read the court's decision inside, prior to announcing the verdict.

Read the Judges' summary of the verdict delivered by a Tel Aviv military court Wednesday.

Violence erupts outside of Hebron shooter trial in Tel Aviv Haaretz

Dozens blocked the nearby Ayalon Highway and confronted police, who tried to prevent the obstruction of traffic. Some protesters tried to hit police officers. Two were arrested for disturbing the peace. "We will turn the state upside down," several shouted.

The police managed to herd the demonstrators away from the highway and into the nearby Sarona outdoor shopping complex, but the highway is still closed to traffic.

"Azaria was born free" and "'the people of Israel support and salute this hero," protesters chanted outside the military courtroom as Azaria faced his verdict.

Earlier the demonstrators broke through the barriers that the police erected in order to block the Hashalom entrance and exit of the Ayalon Highway, adjacent to the Israel Defense Forces headquarters known as Hakirya, which houses the military court.

Elor Azaria: Day of the incident-Court to make its decision.
B'Tselem, Ofer Vaknin, Ilan Assayag, Moti Milrod, David Bachar and REUTERS/Heidi Levine/Pool

"If you killed a terrorist they would arrest you too," yelled one demonstrator who clashed with police. "You are all in danger," others in the crowd shouted at police.

Honenu, a right-wing organization whose website states that it provides a legal defense to soldiers and civilians who are defending themselves against “Arab aggression or due to their love of Israel” said a lawyer from the group was being sent to a police station to provide assistance to those arrested outside the Tel Aviv courtroom where the Azaria verdict was announced. 

Azaria will be sentenced at a later date and could still appeal.