Two arrested over death threats following Israeli soldier's conviction

Two arrested over death threats following Israeli soldier's conviction
Police assigned bodyguards to judges involved in the case of Elor Azaria after death threats were posted online amid continued tension in Israel over the manslaughter verdict.
2 min read
06 January, 2017
Supporters of the soldier clashed with security forces in Tel Aviv on Wednesday [AFP]
Israeli police arrested two people Thursday after death threats were made against a judge over the manslaughter conviction of a soldier who shot dead a wounded Palestinian.

Police said the two people from Jerusalem and the city of Kiryat Gat were arrested for incitement to violence online.

"Police units are continuing to monitor social media and respond to threats and incitement to violence connected to the Azaria court decision," a police statement said.

According to Israeli news site Ynet, death threats against Colonel Maya Heller, the head of the case's three-judge panel, were posted online by a 54-year-old man and 22-year-old woman.

Military chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot was reportedly targeted with threats too, with some of the soldier's hardline sympathisers suggesting he would join Yitzhak Rabin, in reference to the 1995 assassination of the former Israeli Prime Minister by a Jewish extremist.

In response to the threats, security forces have also provided bodyguards to the three judges who found 20-year-old French-Israeli soldier Sgt. Elor Azaria guilty on Wednesday, reports said.

Extra protection was also reportedly provided for military prosecutor Lieutenant Colonel Nadav Weissman.

Azaria's conviction has polarised opinion in Israel, where far-right groups have staged protests against the verdict and harshly criticised the proceedings.

Right-wing politicians, inclduding Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, have said that the soldier should be pardoned.

A poll by pro-Netanyahu newspaper Israel Hayom found that around 70 percent of Israelis favour a pardon for Azaria.

On Wednesday, protestors clashed with police outsde Israel's military headquarters in Tel Aviv, where the manslaughter verdict was announced.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin's office issued a statement shortly after Wednesday's court ruling, advising that any talk of a pardon was premature.

It said that an application could only be made by Azaria himself, his lawyer or close relatives, and then only after the judicial process had run its course.

Sentencing is expected at a later date. He faces up to 20 years in prison and can appeal.