Ex-defense Chief Ya'alon Warns: Israeli Army at Risk of 'Looking Like ISIS'

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Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon speaking at a Tel Aviv conference, July 7, 2016.
Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon speaking at a Tel Aviv conference, July 7, 2016.Credit: Moti Milrod

If the IDF loses its basic values, it could wind up looking like ISIS, former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said on Wednesday regarding the trial of an Israeli soldier who shot and killed a Palestinian assailant in Hebron after he had been subdued.

Yaalon spoke to a group of about 1,000 high-school seniors on a trek sponsored by the kibbutz movement in southern Israel's Arava desert, a week before a military tribunal was expected to issue a verdict in the case against the soldier, Elor Azaria.

Ya'alon said, "the IDF is an army that if it loses its basic values and moral legitimacy, it could wind up looking like ISIS."

He said some politicians seized upon the incident as a way to make political capital. They "declared the soldier a hero and began circulating rumors, first against the prime minister, against me and the chief of staff."

"Afterwards the prime minister unfortunately switched sides, and decided to embrace the soldier's family. That's his business, not mine. I decided to support the commanders and I was left alone in that war," Ya'alon said.

"To all the commanders it was clear that this was something that should not be done. The commanders are the ones who should set the rules of engagement, not politicians like Hazan and Lieberman," he added.

Ya'alon has in the past criticized Avigdor Lieberman, who succeeded him as defense minister, for attending Azaria's remand hearings.

In July Ya'alon said Azaria was not "a hero as some are trying to represent him, and that is why the division commander has decided he shall not longer serve as a fighter, and from there it went on to a criminal process."

Ya'alon added at the time that he didn’t discuss the issue with the chief army prosecutor or go to court as other politicians did.

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