Israel’s +972 magazine reports that the trial of an Israeli soldier who murdered a Palestinian prisoner in cold blood “exposed just how influential the actions and ideas of radical settlers are on the conduct of Israeli soldiers in the West Bank.”
Journalist Dean Issacharoff writes: “Two years before Elor Azaria fired one bullet into the head of Abed al Fatah a-Sharif in Tel Rumeida, Hebron before shaking the hand of Israeli settler Baruch Marzel, I stood in an IDF uniform in the same exact place. As video footage of the incident went public, and especially during the testimony phase of the trial, the public became exposed to the extent to which settlers in Hebron influence IDF soldiers’ conduct in violent and destructive ways.
“The truth is I did not need the evidence to realize just how deep and significant this phenomenon is. From my experience as an officer in Hebron, the fact that settler Ofer Ohana yelled before the shooting, ‘The dog is still alive, somebody do something,’ and the fact that Azaria received a handshake after he fired his gun was predictable. In fact, it almost goes without saying for anyone who has served in Hebron.’
Issacharoff reports: “I also came into contact with this kind cynicism, witnessing firsthand the way settlers goad Israeli soldiers in Hebron, provoking them to be violent with Palestinians. A few weeks before I joined the company, a soldier shot a Palestinian demonstrator who threw a Molotov cocktail in the knee. The settlers presented him with an axe as present – a badge of recognition. There is no doubt: the settlers in Hebron love us when we shoot Arabs…”