Likud Lawmaker: 'A Soldier Cannot Be Tried for Killing a Terrorist'

Nava Boker tells Haaretz why she believes the Israeli soldier facing a manslaughter charge after shooting a Palestinian should be pardoned or just face a disciplinary hearing.

MK Nava Boker speaking at the Knesset.
Knesset

Nava Boker joined the Knesset as a Likud MK in 2015. Prior to becoming a politician, she was a journalist with Yedioth Ahronoth and Maariv. She rose to national prominence fighting on behalf of fire and rescue workers, following the death of her husband, Israel Police Brig. Gen. Lior Boker, in the Carmel forest fire disaster in 2010.

Good morning, MK Nava Boker (Likud). Nir Gontarz from Haaretz here. It’s 9 A.M. and I hear that I woke you.

Boker: What can I do? I’m under a little pressure.

I’d like to talk about your impressions of the Tel Aviv rally for Elor Azaria, the soldier charged with manslaughter after shooting a wounded Palestinian man in Hebron. You were among the few MKs who attended last night. [This interview took place on Wednesday April 19, the morning after the rally attended by some 2,000 protesters.]

Can we do this in another 15 minutes, or are you in a hurry?

I’d be happy to have five minutes of your time.

Fine, alright. Let’s do it quickly. What do you need from me?

To hear a little about the atmosphere and togetherness of [anti-assimilationist group] Lehava and [Beitar Jerusalem ultras] La Familia, and all those folks. Your impressions.

Listen. Yes, I was there. From my point of view, it was a demonstration, let’s call it a rally. It was for and not against. I’m a little hoarse

MK Nava Boker (Likud)
Shlomi Ben David

I can hear that. Is that because you were shouting at the rally?

Certainly not. I have nodes on my vocal chords. So sometimes it’s like that and after the demonstration, I went to two events. I talk a lot.

Absolutely.

I went there to support the soldier and his family. To back them. To show them we are behind them. They are so young, the soldiers. We have to support them.

To support soldiers is fine. There are a lot of soldiers that need supporting. For example, the ones who are hungry and don’t have money, and those who made small mistakes. But here, the entire military system is standing up – from the defense minister and chief of staff on down – and saying, “The soldier killed, and he killed for no reason. There was no need for this.” They’re the ones setting the policy. And the policy is not to kill a dying and helpless terrorist – and if you were also filmed while doing it, you’re in big trouble, you’ll be tried. Why should you support him, of all people?

Listen, I don’t want to go into the details of the investigation. The system is doing its job. Maybe he made a mistake. But if he made a mistake, he should be given a disciplinary hearing, or pardoned. To lock up a soldier who took out a terrorist? In my opinion, that’s a mistake.

He took out a terrorist who was done for, lying on the ground. Subdued. Not a terrorist who attacked him. He’s not a hero. There was no battle here. He attacked and shot what looked like a dead body. That’s not courage, that’s nuts.

We can’t judge the soldier.

We can.

He was in a very difficult situation.

A lot of us were in similar situations in the occupied territories.

They turned him into a scapegoat.

At what point? He took revenge on a dying terrorist. That’s unacceptable, even in the Israel Defense Forces.

I want to ask you about Bus 300 [the 1984 scandal in which Shin Bet security service operatives executed two Palestinian bus hijackers]. The order was given to take the terrorists off the bus and finish them off. What happened there? The whole system was enlisted so they’d get a pardon.

That’s because there was doubt as to who gave the order, and if so, what rank he had. Here it was clear that no one gave [Azaria] an order to take out a terrorist who was actually already done for.

Because he’s from the Kfir Brigade we shouldn’t back him up?

His commanders in Kfir don’t back him up. What’s that got to do with anything?

The soldier says this, they say that. That’s really not relevant. The point is that a soldier cannot be tried for killing a terrorist.

Well, that’s incorrect.

The terrorist came to kill. He wasn’t innocent.

He came to murder. He was shot at the outset. “Neutralized,” in army parlance. Lying there. Almost dead. Not every Arab who isn’t innocent should be killed. You kill somebody who’s threatening your life.

I don’t want to judge...

But that’s precisely what you are doing.

He should be given support, first of all. A terrorist should be killed. Because it’s well, I’ll stop there.

Why? Speak freely.

I wanted to talk to you off the record. But I’m a little worried.

Speak freely.

The fact that they leaked material from the [criminal] investigation – that’s serious.

And how did you feel among your new friends from Lehava, La Familia and all the other right-wing extremists?

Absolutely not. It was the people of Israel.

That’s the people of Israel? Did we shrink?

It’s true there were some extremist groups there. But they don’t represent me or the entire people.

You just said they’re the people of Israel.

I went there to be pro. Not anti. I didn’t call out things against

Your very presence there is a position against the whole defense establishment.

You’re allowed to have disagreements in a democracy.

Absolutely.

We can do things only if we really act like a Jewish army.

What does that mean?

If someone rises up to kill you, kill him first.

The terrorist wasn’t rising up. He was lying on the ground, almost dead.

That’s a matter of dispute.

Which will be sorted out in the military court. Not town squares.

I don’t want to get into it. That’s not the point. He should be supported.

So what should be done with him?

You’re asking me?

Is there anybody else on the line?

He should be given a disciplinary hearing. Or pardoned.

So soldiers will know next time that it’s OK to kill an Arab who is not a threat. Interesting.

The IDF is the most moral army there is.

That kills in the most moral way possible 600 Arab children in recent years and thousands of innocent citizens.

When they had to attack in Shujaiyeh, or whatever it’s called [during Operation Protective Edge, in the summer of 2014], the IDF took care that Palestinian lives would not be harmed, and about eight soldiers were killed because of that.

What do you mean? They were killed because the IDF sent them in a broken armored personnel carrier made of cardboard.

But, ah, I say, my morality First of all, Israel’s citizens. Not the opposite. The message listen. Just as an example, today I saw the mother of that Danny. Danny, ah, who was killed in Samaria [Danny Gonen, killed by a Palestinian terrorist in June 2015]. We have to create deterrence.

OK, we create deterrence. What’s that got to do with it.

A terrorist simply should be finished off.

Even if he’s subdued? Dying?

I’m not getting into that discussion.

That’s very odd, because you are totally getting into that discussion.

What can I tell you I’m late already.

Where are you going?

I have a long day today. Not at the Knesset. There are a lot of meetings. Also a condolence call. And a toast. Ah, these are long days. But ah thank you.

Thank you.

Protesters at the Tel Aviv rally in aid of IDF soldier Elor Azaria, April 19, 2016.
Moti Milrod