Israel News for January 4, 2017

Soldier Convicted
After a nine month trial in a military court, IDF Sgt. Elor Azaria was convicted of manslaughter this morning for shooting a seriously wounded terrorist in the head last year in Hebron. The terrorist had just committed a stabbing attack and was shot and wounded by soldiers. As he was lying on the ground face down, surrounded by soldiers, Azaria approached and shot the terrorist in the head, allegedly killing him.

On the one hand the defense attempted to claim that the terrorist was already dead before Azaria shot him. On the other hand the claim was made that Azaria saw the terrorist move and thought that he was still a threat. In any case, the judges wrote, “He opened fired in violation of orders, the terrorist did not pose any threat.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman expressed regret at the verdict but urged everyone to respect it. “We are all obligated to show restraint. What is important is that despite the verdict, the security apparatus will assist the soldier and his family in any way possible.”

Hundreds of protesters rioted outside of the courtroom in front of the IDF military headquarters in Tel Aviv directly before and after the verdict.

Education minister Naftali Bennet and Culture Minister Miri Regev both called for the government to grant Azaria immediate amnesty.

Azaria’s legal team said that it will appeal the verdict.

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Motorbike Attack
Palestinians on four motorbikes attempted to break through a checkpoint near Jenin yesterday. One of the bikes rammed into two Border Police officers, injuring them. The other three motor bikes escaped through the checkpoint.

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Gaza Casualty
Over two and a half years after Operation Protective Edge (Gaza War), an Israeli soldier critically wounded in the operation has died. Major Hagai Ben Ari, a highly regarded paratroop officer, was shot in the head by a sniper in Gaza on July 21, 2014. Over the next 2 years he remained unconscious. Ben Ari leaves behind a wife and 3 young children. He is the 68th IDF soldier killed in Protective Edge.

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PA Austerity
The Palestinian Authority is planning to implement some deep spending cuts as a result of a huge budget deficit. The reason for the deficit is a sharp drop in foreign funding, primarily from Saudi Arabia and the US and EU.

Saudi Arabia normally pays about $20 million a month into the budget, but it stopped making regular contributions last April – in part to apply pressure on President Mahmoud Abbas to implement political changes. The EU and the US have also reduced direct budget support, preferring instead to fund specific development programs.

More than half of the PA budget goes for paying salaries of government employees. The PA also pays stipends to families of terrorists.

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Underwater Lighting
Even though Hanukkah is over, we thought you had to see this video, in which two Chabad emissaries light a huge menorah under the shark infested waters of Playa Del Carmen in Mexico. Chabad really does go everywhere! To watch video click here.