Messianic soldiers respond to conviction of Israeli soldier

Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier, who shot a neutralized Palestinian terrorist in Hebron seen after a court hearing at a military court in Jaffa, July 24, 2016. Azaria was convicted of manslaughter on January 4, 2017. (Photo: Flash90)

Ten months after a single shot shook the entire country, Sergeant Elor Azaria’s trial has come to an end as a military court dismissed all claims by the defense and found Azaria guilty of manslaughter for shooting and killing a neutralized terrorist in Hebron about a year ago. 

This incident was documented by a resident of the city and the video that became public caused an uproar and a commotion that shook the army, the Israeli public and the political system. Outside of the court during the trial violent riots took place as hundreds of people came to demonstrate and express their support for the soldier.  

“This is a difficult and painful day for all of us – first and foremost to Elor and his family, to the IDF soldiers, many citizens and parents of soldiers, myself included,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “I call on all Israeli citizens to act responsibly toward the IDF, its commanders and the Chief of General Staff. We have one army which is the foundation of our existence. The IDF soldiers are our sons and daughters, and they must remain above all controversy.”

Israelis are mostly united behind their army and have a strong desire to “not leave anyone behind” since “the soldiers are all of our sons.” This attitude is crucial during war and disaster, fostering unity and boosting morale among soldiers. The nation is eager to support its armed forces and not abandon them in times of crisis. 

With so many opinions on the subject appearing on social media networks, many parallels have been drawn between this incident and stories in the scriptures. We collected a few comments from our Messianic soldiers in regular and reserve duty:

Matan Ohana, officer in the reserves:

To all my Messianic brothers and sisters!

For those who know me, I do not often write posts on Facebook, but in the last few days I have witnessed a disturbing phenomenon that is seeping into the body of Messiah.I came to the point of tears when I saw extreme posts of my brothers and sisters in faith the past few days. We are losing biblical understanding! We are losing identity! We are losing love!

It does not matter guilty, innocent, explosion, alive, dead, ours, theirs… We should not participate in this parade of hate, evil, hypocrisy and controversy that exists now in the nation of Israel!

Yeshua did not speak of politics, nationalism, rules of engagement, not left nor right  – but relations between man and God and man and man.

All the various Bible stories and their parallels to our situation are not relevant and it is very problematic to get into it. Yeshua did speak of love, turning the other cheek, to love your enemies and pray for them.

I do not say all this from a ‘enlighted’ place but from a place that wants to be a testimony, light and salt to God in a dark and sinful world.

Our light is through love, compassion for each side, help with actions and the most important prayer for salvation for our enemies and prayer for salvation for our nation to know Yeshua the Messiah.

Because really, any other discourse is worthless.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:14)

Greg, first sergeant in the regular army duty:

Since the beginning of my military service in a combat unit, I was taught the spirit of the IDF and the rules of engagement in fire. It does not matter if I agree with them or not, but I knew where I was going and knew the rules that I had to follow. What happened in the incident with Elor Azaria is breaking of the rules and taking the law in one’s own hands, because the terrorist was not able to continue and hurt more people. I think Elor needs to take responsibility for his actions and accept the punishment that will be given to him.

Eli, sergeant in the regular army duty:

Many ask me, “What would you have done if you were in his place?” I do not think this is the right question to ask. I do not know how I would have behaved there instead of Elor. Thank God I have not experienced such difficult events.

Here and there firebombs, bricks and ceramics have been thrown at me and my friends. But I was not in a situation like Azaria. The situation is very morally complex. But the question is not what I would have done. The question is, what is the right thing to do? I learned in my basic training that killing is justified when there are means, intention and ability. I support death to terrorists, but I cannot take the law into my own hands.  

I do not know how much Elor deserves to be punished. I do know that the action he took is not in the norm. The norm is not to fire on a person who is no longer a threat.

Regarding all the attempts to justify his actions with cases from the Bible: It is important to remember the difference between real and ideal. Not all the recorded scriptures are necessarily being encouraged. And speaking of the Bible, I actually remember David who had every reason to kill Saul when he approached him from behind in the cave.

Let us remember to pray daily for our nation, for wisdom for our authorities, and for the judicial and justice systems in Israel. And of course for our soldiers – sons and daughters of Israel.