Israeli soldier found guilty of manslaughter

In Israel a military court has found the soldier Elor Azaria guilty of manslaughter. In 2015, Azaria, who was 18 at the time, killed a wounded Palastinian attacker who was lying on the ground by shooting him in the head. The case caused an outcry in Israel - and is also an issue of concern for Europe's commentators.

Open/close all quotes
Avvenire (IT) /

Court breaks with war mentality

The reactions among the Israeli people to the verdict against the soldier Elor Asaria show the extent to which war dominates the mentality in the country, Avvenire writes:

“Before we take issue with public opinion and condemn it let us remember that Israel is surrounded by enemies, both within the country and outside it. The daily goal of these enemies is to kill a Jew, no matter where they encounter him, how old he is, whether male or female or what he is doing at that moment. … For the soldier and all those protesting for him, the principle of 'Kill your enemy before he kills you' applies. … According to human morals a soldier who kills a defenceless enemy should be convicted because the enemy was defenceless. According to military morals he should receive a medal because the dead man was an enemy. The judiciary that convicts this soldier is doing its job. The military and the politicians who give him a medal are also doing their job. But mankind needs the former. ”

El País (ES) /

Critics should see the verdict as a chance

This ruling could strengthen Israel, El País believes:

“Everyone knows that Israel not only faces the threat of terrorism and hostile neighbours but is also exposed to the criticism of the international community, which regularly condemns its settlement policy as illegal. So it comes as a surprise that those who defend the soldier Azaria fail to understand that yesterday's verdict shows that Israel is a country based on the rule of law, with independent courts and a live democracy. And that this distinguishes it from its neighbours. Rulings like this one do more to strengthen Israel than the unreflected statements of its prime minister and the fanatics who support him.”

The Times (GB) /

Israel must not become complacent

The Times is also convinced that it is important for Israel that the soldier who is widely celebrated as a hero was put on trial:

“The military court ruling exposed the cracks in a society that has to make an unusually stark trade-off between security and personal liberty. The attack occurred at a time last year when Palestinian fanatics were knifing dozens of Israelis. ... Israel faces threats to its right to exist like no other democracy, but it must not stop questioning itself. Too many Israeli Arabs are being treated as second-class citizens. Whatever progress is made towards peace, the country needs to ask what kind of democracy it wants. How inclusive should it be, how representative of non-Jewish minorities? Israel’s democracy is admirable and unique in the region, but it cannot be complacent.”