Lieberman Slams Israeli Media: A Soldier Can't Fulfill His Misson With a Lawyer Beside Him

Defense Minister criticizes media coverage of military trials, saying that 'convictions are made by a court of law and not by the media.'

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, center, with ministers Uri Ariel and Gila Gamliel, during a tour of Bedouin settlements in the Negev on August 29, 2016.
Eliahu Hirschkowitz

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman criticized media coverage of the Elor Azaria trial on Monday, saying that "a person who fights daily and for many months against terror and terrorists can't go on a mission with a lawyer beside him."

Azaria, 19, is currently on trial for manslaughter after shooting and killing Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, a wounded, and incapacitated Palestinian terrorist, in the Tel Rumeida settlement of Hebron last March.

"Sometimes, a person's judgement is right and at other times not," Lieberman said, "but a situation in which every soldier needs a lawyer before going on a mission is unsustainable."

The defense minister, who was talking during a tour of Bedouin villages in the Negev, added that the Israeli media "needs to remember that in the State of Israel, as in all democratic countries, convictions are made by a court of law and not by the media."

"So long as a person has not been convicted, he's innocent," Lieberman continued. "That applies to Elor [Azaria] as well as to the soldier from the Nezach Yehuda battalion." The latter was a reference to a soldier who is currently under investigation for killing a Palestinian last week."

He added that he expected the media to "make an effort to strengthen Israel's deterrence against its enemies, rather than deterring Israeli soldiers in the struggle against terrorists.

Asked whether he would prefer a supportive media, Lieberman replied that he wants "a free media, not a media that deters IDF soldiers."

Regarding his tour of Bedouin settlements, in which he was joined by Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel, Lieberman said that the purpose was to "act to normalize Bedouin settlement and incorporate them into Israeli society."

The situation requires all government agencies to "cooperate and adopt a uniform platform," he said. "The Authority for the Development of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev is doing excellent work, for which we have waited many years, and not there is finally work and a plan that we will support with all our might."