Author: Sharon Pulwer

Posted on January 5, 2017

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has instructed police to open an investigation into suspicions of incitement to violence following a protest in support of soldier Elor Azaria on Wednesday while his verdict was being issued.

Some protesters outside the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv 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.

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 take uncompromising and determined action against calls to incitement to violence and racism.»

Meanwhile, the president of Israel’s Supreme Court came out in defense of the judges who convicted Azaria, after they have been threatened due to their ruling on Wednesday.

Calling the attacks on the judges a «danger to the rule of law and democracy,» Justice Miriam Naor said in a statement: «Without of course taking any stand on the legal verdict, we fully condemn a blatant attack such as we are now witness to, which has no place in any proper society.»

«Substantive criticism of a verdict is of course legitimate, but the assaults taking place these days have violated the limits of legitimate dialogue, and pose a danger to the rule of law and democracy.»

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.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said officers had arrested a man in Jerusalem and a woman in the southern town of Kiryat Gat whose social media comments constituted «incitement to violence» against the judges.

Several Israeli politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have voiced their support for pardoning Azaria.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Read more: