The political fallout from last Thursday’s killing by an IDF soldier of a wounded terrorist in Hevron continues to make headlines on Sunday, with fresh criticism aimed at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
The incident, which has enflamed passions on both sides of the debate, has divided the coalition government, turning even political allies against one another.
During the government’s weekly meeting on Sunday, Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) lambasted Ya’alon’s criticism of the soldier involved in the incident, saying it was not the role of the political establishment to judge the accused.
“We cannot determine the fate (in court) of the soldier. We need to support our troops,” said Bennett.
“Why rush to judgment before the investigation? You’ve confused the good-guys with the bad-guys. We’re at war against murderous Palestinian terror. At the front line stands the soldier,” Bennett continued.
“Why was it necessary to jump on the soldier so fast on Thursday? The investigation of the army Central Command only began on Friday!”
“What message does that send to thousands of soldiers, [sending out a premature] indictment for murder? You’ve confused the good-guys with the bad-guys! Why is the country’s leadership dancing to B’Tselem’s tune? We don’t know what the soldier was thinking [when he shot].”
Bennett called on the government to support the army “with actions, not words.”
Netanyahu quickly responded to Bennett’s statement, deriding his comments as political grandstanding.
“Don’t politicize everything. You won’t lecture me about ethics.”
Other ministers also accused Bennett of using the incident to make political capital, including Gilad Erdan (Likud) and Aryeh Deri (Shas).
Some MKs in both the coalition and opposition have expressed open support for the soldier now under investigation, including Science Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud), MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home), and former Foreign Minister MK Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu).