IDF Sgt. Azaria: I shot the terrorist, sure it was a big terror attack

Taking the stand in his trial for manslaughter before a military court in Jaffa, IDF Sgt. Elor Azaria explained in his defense why he shot the injured Abdel Fatah al-Sharif in the head, although he was lying wounded ten minutes after al-Sharif and a second Palestinian had stabbed two Israeli soldiers.

Azaria testified: “When I came on the scene [in Hebron’s Tel Rumeida neighborhood] on March 24, I heard people yelling, ‘Look out! He may have a bomb vest. No one touch him or approach until a bomb disposal unit arrives. See, he’s still moving. He might jump up and hit us.’”

Sgt. Azaria went on to say: “I saw that he was wearing a bulky black coat as though he was hiding a bomb vest. It was much thicker than the other terrorist’s coat. A film ran through my head of a quality terror attack such as we had been warned against. The injured terrorist looked to me suspicious and it seemed to me that he was about to carry out the big attack about which we were warned.”

Azaria reported that an IDF major had told his unit that Hamas was planning a major attack in Hebron. The alert was taken seriously since it had come from the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).

The defendant described how he passed his helmet to another soldier, cocked his sidearm and, shouting to everyone to move back, fired a single round to Sharif’s head from a distance of 7-10 meters.

The sergeant’s testimony, which followed the presentation of the case for the prosecution, is expected to last three days during which he faces cross-examination. 

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