Judge Shoots Down Discrimination Claim by Israeli Soldier Accused of Killing Palestinian

Lt. Col. Ronen Shor says case has no similarity to instances in which Israeli authorities also shot and killed Palestinian assailants.

Sgt. Elor Azaria at the military court in Jaffa.
Moti Milrod

A military court judge has rejected the defense claim of discrimination and selective enforcement against Sgt. Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier being tried for manslaughter after shooting a subdued and wounded Palestinian assailant in Hebron in March.

The judge, Lt. Col. Ronen Shor, also rejected the defense’s request that the military prosecution provide information about other cases which the defense claims are similar to Azaria's.

Shor, a judge at Jaffa military court, said Thursday he found no evidence to support the claim of selective enforcement.

“Without ruling on the issue, I would say that given the cases cited by the defense and the military prosecution’s response, I don’t think the petitioner has, at the present time, submitted enough prima facie evidence substantiating its claim of selective enforcement to justify obliging the prosecution to give the defense information about other cases,” he wrote.

Azaria’s defense team submitted its response to the indictment last Monday. The defense brief argued that similar cases in the past had ended with the soldier involved suffering nothing more than a reprimand, and therefore Azaria’s indictment on a manslaughter charge was discriminatory.

The defense cited two cases that it claimed were similar to Azaria's: One involved Col. Yisrael Shomer, the commander of the Binyamin Brigade, who shot and killed Mohammed Kosba, 17, as he fled after throwing stones at the soldier's jeep last July. The other case involved a police volunteer who shot and killed Bashar Masalha, a knife-wielding terrorist in Jaffa in March, also allegedly after the assailant was lying wounded on the ground.

The prosecution argued that neither of these cases actually resembled that of Azaria's.

The defense is also arguing that it’s not clear whether it was Azaria’s shot to the head that actually killed the assailant, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif.