Police Arrest Suspect for Incitement Against Israeli Army Chief

The man allegedly made inciting comments during a rally in support of Elor Azaria, a soldier convicted of shooting and killing an incapacitated Palestinian assailant.

Police and demonstrators clash at a protest of support for Sgt. Elor Azaria, convicted of manslaughter in the deadly shooting of an incapacitated Palestinian attacker, in Tel Aviv, January 4, 2017.
Ilan Assayag

A Jerusalem man was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of incitement against Israel's military chief, the police said.

The police said that the detainee, 33, made inciting comments against Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot during a protest held in Tel Aviv on Thursday, in the wake of the manslaughter conviction of a soldier who shot dead an incapacitated Palestinian assailant. 

Earlier this week, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit instructed police to open an investigation into suspicions of incitement to violence following protests in support of the soldier, Elor Azaria.

Protesters outside the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv last week were heard chanting thinly-veiled death threats against the army's chief of staff, Gadi Eizenkot. "Gadi watch out, Rabin is looking for a friend," they chanted, hinting at the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot.
Olivier Fitoussi

Eisenkot has been critical of Azaria's conduct.

The Justice Ministry said that Mendelblit "reiterates that there is no room for incitement, whether against judges, IDF officers or any members of the law enforcement community. Law enforcement authorities will act take uncompromising and determined action against calls to incitement to violence and racism."

Azaria, who shot dead a prone Palestinian assailant in March, was found guilty of manslaughter on Wednesday. Sentencing in the case will proceed before the three-judge military court panel that convicted him.

The case has polarized Israel. Security for the judges has been stepped up in light of the passions that Azaria’s conviction has engendered among parts of the public. When Wednesday’s proceedings concluded, the military prosecutor in the case, Lt. Col. (Res.) Nadav Weisman, was also provided a security detail.