The company commander of Elor Azaria, the soldier on trial for shooting and killing a prone Palestinian assailant in Hebron, has become the target of threats since he testified in court last week against Azaria.
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Kfir Brigade company commander Tom Naaman, who told the military court that there was no operational justification for the shooting by his subordinate, has filed a complaint with the police after his cell phone number was posted on WhatsApp groups and social networks.
Police subsequently arrested a settler on suspicion of incitement to violence against Naaman. The suspect, a resident of a settlement in the West Bank, was detained for questioning after writing on Facebook that if Naaman had been his commander “he wouldn’t be able to walk on his feet any more.”
The suspect’s defense attorney, Itamar Ben Gvir - who regularly defends Jewish radicals suspected of hate crimes or terror acts – said: “This is a young man who criticized the company commander, claiming that he betrayed his soldiers. In a democratic country criticism is permitted, certainly against an officer who testifies against his subordinate.”
Haaretz has learned that police plan to investigate others who publicized Naaman’s phone number.
Calling this a case of “unbridled incitement,” former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon wrote on his Facebook page that this “unacceptable phenomenon should be clearly and strongly opposed, and support given to a fighter and commander who exhibits courage, not only on the battlefield.”
Azaria is on trial for manslaughter in a military court for the killing of a disarmed and incapacitated Palestinian assailant, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, on March 24 in Hebron.
This is not the first time that someone has been arrested for a Facebook post against an Israel Defense Forces commander. In 2014 the military advocate general indicted a Palestinian from Hebron, Zahda Suhaib, who posted a status on Facebook telling the commander of the Golani Brigade, Col. Ghassan Alian, to “go to hell.” He was accused of various offenses, including “posting a notice of diplomatic significance” and insulting a soldier.
The writer of the status was arrested, and the military attorney general barred him from posting statuses on Facebook until the conclusion of the legal proceedings. After a petition was filed, it was decided to overturn the prohibition against using Facebook.