FINANCE MINISTER MOSHE KAHLON called to pardon Elor Azaria, the IDF soldier who shot dead an incapacitated and supine Palestinian assailant at point-blank range, as he was sentenced on Tuesday.
The finance minister said the Azaria family had suffered enough over the last year of legal proceedings and public scrutiny, according to the Israeli national broadcaster.
“The IDF has always been the most ethical and moral army in the world, and the government and citizenry remain committed to protecting the ‘purity of arms’ under IDF Chief of Staff [Gadi] Eizenkott,” said Kahlon.
Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon meanwhile advised the Azaria family to request Elor’s pardon, which he said would probably be accepted.
A friend of Azaria’s, Avraham Arnon, insisted on Army Radio that the family had fought the legal battle alone, despite the popular (and sometimes rabid) support for Azaria.
“Not a single lawyer, nobody approached the family. No soldier offered up his help and protection. I am telling you with absolute certainty, not 100%, but 1 million percent, nobody approached them,” Arnon said.
Azaria was sentenced on Tuesday to 18 months in prison for manslaughter and was demoted to private.
THE PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE vowed to follow through on the state’s promise to resettle the families of Amona, who were evicted from their homes a couple of weeks ago as the IDF dismantled the West Bank residential outpost.
The state had agreed to set up alternate housing for the evicted Amona residents, but the High Court struck down plans after deciding they had too confiscated private Palestinian land.
Yoav Horowitz, chief of staff of the Prime Minister’s Office, said the state was making “every effort to reach an acceptable solution” for Amona residents, Israel Radio reported.
Avichai Bauron, head of the Amona council, said the government had until March 31, according to its agreement, to come up with a solution for the dozens of evicted families.
POLITICAL LEADERS ALL OVER JERUSALEM CAME DOWN on the head of a local community group after he suggested “choking the haredim.”
Yahiel Levi, who heads the group Yuvalim, was advocating aggressive measures for pressuring haredi residents to move out of certain (mostly secular) neighborhoods.
“When you choke them, they go,” Levi explained on Army Radio. “When you make life hard, they’re not enthusiastic about staying. It’s a mechanism that works today.”
For example, the Yuvalim director suggested planning public movie screenings and secular events on Shabbat.
Yuvalim is an aliya absorption center for residents of several (mainly) upscale, secular (a demographic in Israel that demands unpacking) Jerusalem neighborhoods. Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox population has made relative demographic gains over secular communities in Jerusalem in recent years.
The Yuvalim head has since apologized for the remarks, but this has not stopped Israeli officials from calling for Levi’s ouster. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat put in a request at the Israel Association of Community Centers calling for the Yuvalim director’s resignation.
At the same time, Shas Knesset rep. Michael Malchieli said Levi was unfit to continue his role at Yuvalim, and Health Minister Yaakov Litzman asked the Jerusalem district attorney’s office to investigate the Yuvalim director for incitement. Litzman is a member of the largely Ashkenazi haredi United Torah Judaism Party, which draws significant support from Jerusalem voters.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called Levi’s comments saddening and angering.
CABINET SECRETARY TZAHI BRAVERMAN filed a complaint with the Attorney-General’s Office about Knesset rep. Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union) over a mock letter of resignation the parliamentarian tweeted about the prime minister.
The letter came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resigned as Communications Minister over an ongoing media scandal (#bibigate).
Braverman asked the Attorney-General’s Office to consider a criminal case against Hasson for misleading the public.
“It’s an honor to receive a complaint from the master of fake news and forgery, Netanyahu,” responded Opposition rep. Hasson, according to Israel Radio. “He understands that his political end is near and so every joke on Twitter has become an existential threat.”