200 Israelis protest in solidarity with soldier who shot neutralized terrorist
Family of soldier hold press conference, with sister urging IDF chief and spokesperson not to court-martial him in the media, and lamenting the fact her brother became 'an enemy of the state' in the eyes of the state's leadership.
About a hundred people demonstrated outside the Camp Natan IDF base in Be'er Sheva, and about a hundred more protested outside Prison Four (Confinement Base 394) in Tzrifin.
The protesters in Be'er Sheva held up signs saying "kill or be killed" and "Eisenkot, we need an Israeli military chief, not a Belgian one."
Signs outside Prison Four said: "You don't abandon a soldier in the field" and "A dead terrorist is better than a soldier in jail."
Protesters also waved Israeli flags.
Meanwhile, the soldier's family held a press conference outside their home.
"I stand before and begging you - stop for a moment. I'm begging the IDF chief and IDF spokesperson - why are you giving him a court-martial in the media?" the soldier's sister said, choking back tears. "Why are you killing him without a trial?"
The sister asserted that the IDF did not let her brother explain his actions. "Why didn't you give him a minute to explain what he was going through, what he was feeling, was he worried the heinous terrorist was planning on blowing himself up, or perhaps draw a weapon?" she wondered.
"Over the past two days, we've been hearing the heads of the military, who can speak to any member of the press, giving my brother a court-martial in the media, while he can't defend himself," the sister continued. "The B'Tselem NGO released a video that presents a one-sided version of the incident, and since then we've heard the leadership judging him, sentencing him and all that's left now is to execute him, without allowing him to defend himself."
She went on to lament the fact her brother had become "an enemy of the state in the eyes of B'Tselem, the chief of staff, and the IDF spokesperson," accusing them of "lynching him live on TV. You are each, separately, much stronger than he is and together you are all like a steamroller that turned my brother into dust."
The sister also bemoaned the fact the media has been "harshly criticizing and vilifying him."
She urged the IDF chief, the IDF spokesperson, the defense minister and the prime minister to stop and consider "what would a soldier think tomorrow if he sees a terrorist lying on the ground and fear he might have an explosive belt on? Today it's my brother, and tomorrow it'll be the new recruits, who will be torn by the dilemma."
Asking for "understanding and compassion" for her brother, the sister described him as "a dedicated soldier, a patriot who loves the State of Israel, is disciplined, and brave."
Earlier Saturday, the sister wrote a post on Facebok harshly criticizing Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and the IDF. "My little brother shot a terrorist who came with a knife to murder IDF soldiers in Hebron, and all of a sudden he's suspected of murder. Meaning, the system is accusing my brother the soldier of the murder of a terrorist who came to commit murder. I'm not sure you're realizing how absurd that is," she wrote.
She noted her brother did not expect praise for killing the terrorist, and only wants a fair trial. "We feel like the knife dropped by the terrorist in Hebron was used by the system to stab my little brother in the back," he said.
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot was briefed on the investigation's progress and praised the soldiers who stopped the attack and their professional conduct. He noted that the IDF was waging a determined and professional fight against terrorism and that the results of this fight can be felt on the ground. He added that the IDF will back soldiers and commanders who committed mistakes, but not when their behavior is not in line with the military's values.
Eisenkot's comments caused outrage, and posters were put up near the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv depicting him as Haman the evil and calling on his to resign.
Sources in the IDF condemned the posters, saying they are "inciting and dangerous."
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who initially determined that "what happened in Hebron does not represent the IDF's values," posted a softer message on his official Facebook page on Saturday night in support of the IDF.
"The attacks on IDF as an immoral army as expressed over the past weekend are outrageous and the opposite of the truth. The IDF is a moral army that does not execute people. IDF soldiers use their bodies to block murderous terrorist attacks on Israeli soldiers, and they are deserving of all our support. Regarding the latest incident—I trust the IDF to perform a thorough, responsible and fair investigation, as it always does."