BICOM Briefing | The trial of Sgt. Elor Azaria

In a high-profile military trial, Sgt. Elor Azaria, the IDF soldier accused of unlawfully killing a wounded Palestinian assailant in the West Bank city of Hebron in March was found guilty of manslaughter.

Following the guilty verdict this morning (Wednesday 4th January), BICOM’s Research team has produced a briefing on the trial and verdict.

Executive Summary

  • The Azaria case touches on a number of sensitive issues in Israeli society. An important element in Israeli political and military culture is the self-perception that the country holds high moral standards in the use of force, with the IDF Code of Ethics Core principles including the supreme value of human life and “Purity of Arms”. At the same time, a very high value is placed on the protection of the lives of soldiers in the field and viewing the government and IDF as having a high responsibility to protect them.
  • The episode also plays into a broader political struggle taking place over Israel’s identity and values. In this case the political right broadly took the side of the soldier and his family, against institutionalised elites – in this case the upper echelons of the IDF – whilst the centre and left positioned itself as the defender of those institutions and their values. The fact the event occurred in the context of a wave of Palestinian terrorism that began in October 2015 and by the end of March had killed over 30 civilians led many to express sympathy towards the soldier for shooting the assailant.


The full briefing is available as a PDF below.

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