Police have arrested a 54-year-old man from Jerusalem and a 22-year-old woman from Kiryat Gat who are suspected of inciting to violence against the judges who convicted Sgt. Elor Azaria of manslaughter.
The Azaria family came out against the posts of incitement and expressions of violence on social media, particularly those aimed at the judges’ panel.
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“The family has no connection and is not responsible for anything that happens outside the courtroom and a connection between the two things should in no way be made. Obviously, the family members disagree with all expressions of violence and completely condemn them, ” a statement from the family said.
The Jerusalem District Police said the Jerusalem man wrote a post on Facebook “expressing radical criticism of the judges’ decision to convict the soldier Elor Azaria.”
He was arrested after the police received the State Attorney’s Office’s approval to investigate the post.
“I express my support in a full acquittal (for Azaria) and do publicly declare: Col. Maya Heller will not finish her year. ‘She passes the judgment of the land and I give her the judgment of the heavens’ so that all should see and beware across the generations, ” the man wrote in the post that was later removed.
He went on to say that “those who support the conviction of a ‘soldier in God’s army’ will receive a bitter fate and all of the curses written in the Torah will plague them and their families until their end.”
The woman was questioned and released under restrictive conditions after writing: “Take a grenade and blow up the judge and scatter all of her parts in different places, let the dogs eat her. God will make her pay for everything.”
“The Israel Police regularly monitors internet activity that deviates from the limits of legitimate expression of opinion and is suspected of being inciting, ” the police said in a statement.
“The Israel Police will not allow any incitement to violence against government and judicial institutions and will take a hard line against any publication that is considered incitement and could lead to actual harm to public officials, ” the statement went on to say.
After the military court found Azaria, who shot dead an already-neutralized terrorist in Hebron last year, guilty of manslaughter on Wednesday, social media has been flooded with swear words, harsh language and incitement against the head of the judges’ panel, Judge Col. Maya Heller.
As a result, the IDF decided to assign a security detail to protect the three judges—Lt. Col Yaron Sitbon, Col. Maya Heller and Col. Carmel Wahabi—as well as the chief military prosecutor in the case, Lt. Col. Nadav Weissman.
Users on social media claimed that Heller was the sister of Tali Fahima, a left-wing activist who was convicted for her contacts with Zakaria Zubeidi, Jenin chief of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades and served two years in prison.
“It’s a disgrace for the State of Israel to allow an Israeli hater to judge a soldier, or to judge in the State of Israel at all, ” one poster wrote.
Another post said: “Maya Heller, you should be ashamed of yourself. Just like you destroyed this family’s joy of life and health, so will God repay you.”
Yet another poster wished the judge “to be in a terror attack.”
One poster lashed out against the top echelons of the defense establishment, journalist and “the Nazi judge Maya Heller.”
That poster warned that “God is counting every tear shed by a mother. You will pay for this—sooner or later. God works in mysterious ways. I wish you torment. May you never have a single moment of happiness until your dying day.”
Two others wished “rape and death by burning” to Judge Heller.
A Facebook page titled “Elor Azaria, the people are with you, ” which has 1, 500 followers, was also flooded with harsh posts against the judge.
“Who are you and who gave you the right to convict Elor?” the page’s managers wrote, concluding their post with “We will remember you and the prosecution eternally in disgrace. You are the Judenrat of this generation.”
There were also calls for soldiers to rebel against the IDF. One poster, alongside a photo of weapons, wrote: “Elor is going to jail—we’re all going to jail.”
Ran Carmi-Buzaglo, one of the leaders of the public struggle for Azaria, said: “We will continue to fight with determination to release this soldier who is part of us all. The struggle is based on fierce belief in the righteousness of the way and is conditioned on appropriate behavior. We will continue to act based on the law and in accordance with the principles of democracy. Those lawbreakers were first seen at the (initial) hearing in Qastina and they appeared again nine months later. They do not, in any way, represent the spirit of the struggle.”
The incitement began outside the court on Wednesday, when Azaria supporters chanted to the IDF chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot: “Gadi, Gadi, beware. Rabin’s looking for a friend, ” referring to the slain Israeli prime minister.
By Ynet News
Yonatan Baniyeh and Asaf Zagrizak contributed to this report.