Azaria trial continues: Driver admits to moving knife, father has outburst
The trial of the soldier accused of manslaughter for having shot dead a neutralized terrorist in Hebron continues, with the ambulance driver who kicked the terrorist's knife admitting to so doing and the soldier's father yelling at the prosecutor during a break.
The trial of Sgt. Elor Azaria, who is accused of manslaughter for having shot dead a neutralized Palestinian terrorist, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, in Hebron, continued on Tuesday in the Jaffa Military Court. Paramedic Ofer Ohana admitted in testimony to having kicked a knife to move it closer to al-Sharif's corpse, and the soldier's father had an outburst during a break.
In a WhatsApp discussion that took place immediately following the incident, Ohana, a resident of Kiryat Arba, expressed dissatisfaction with Azaria's commanders. Several hours after the incident, the ambulance driver exchanged messages with Charlie Azaria, the defendant's father.
The worried father wrote, "My son has been called for investigation by the military police; I need the telephone number of Rabbi Baruch Marzel." The right-wing activist Marzel was documented shaking Azaria's hand minutes after the incident, but he explained later that he did not realize at the time that Azaria was the soldier who had killed al-Sharif. Marzel explained that he would also have hugged and kissed Azaria had he known.
During his testimony, Ohana was asked what he talked about with Azaria at the scene, to which the driver replied, "I'm not answering that question. I'm starting to feel like I'm under investigation, and I don't want to answer. The CID (criminal investigation division) didn't want to get to the truth, just to condemn me and the soldier." Ohana elaborated that he felt threatened by the CID during their investigation.
Regarding the video that he filmed at the scene, Ohana said, "I'm used to documenting incidents that I come to. I've been volunteering with MDA (Magen David Adom) and Hatzalah Yehuda/Shomron for 28 years now and am also an ambulance driver… In the Azaria case, I was in the first ambulance that showed up. I try to document all the events accurately."
He added, "It's important to me to show the Israeli and IDF side versus the Palestinian side, which claims that IDF soldiers are executing Palestinians and then gets their hands on knives."
Ohana was questioned about the knife that he was alleged to have moved closer to the body of the dead al-Sharif. He stated that he noticed that a knife was lying on the ground and that another ambulance present was not aware of it, as the police had not marked it. "I moved the knife so that the Arabs wouldn't claim that we plant knives next to terrorists," he explained.
The prosecutor, Lt. Col. (res.) Nadav Weisman, accused Ohana during question of commenting on a potential explosive device on al-Sharif along with others present as an excuse not to treat him. Ohana replied, "Nonsense. Unfortunately, I've treated terrorists in the past."
During a break in the trial, Charlie Azaria had an outburst. Addressing Weisman, he yelled, "Do these officers know what Hebron is? Have they ever been to Hebron? They received orders from above. It's a stitch up."
He continued to yell about his frustration and repeated his accusation that his son was unfairly accused, saying "Is this what I served the country for 33 years for? I endangered my life! I trust the judicial system; I only ask that there be a fair trial. That whoever's pulling the prosecutor's strings should have come down out of their tree, they set him up for a murder case from the beginning—for what? Where's the prime minister?"
The prosecutor informed the judge of the outburst, claiming that it constituted incitement against him. The judge, Col. Maya Heller, issued a warning and stated that future outbursts would result in exclusion from the courtroom.