Right-wing activist confesses to moving knife in Hebron shooting case
Yonah Jeremy Bob, JPost, Jul 5 2016
Prosecutors in the manslaughter trial against Elor Azaria, the IDF soldier who is accused of unnecessarily shooting to death an already neutralized terrorist in Hebron in March, questioned a key witness on Tuesday, who they suggest attempted to cover up the suspect’s crime. The witness, Ofer Ohana, was an ambulance driver who arrived at the scene of the incident. IDF investigators previously claimed that Ohana moved a knife closer to the prone Palestinian terrorist to make video he took make it look like Azaria had killed him in self-defense. Ohana initially denied having moved the knife on Tuesday, and later confessed to the action to ensure that later “Palestinians could not claim a knife wasn’t there.” He said:
I worried the ambulance would move it far.
The court gave Ohana immunity to testify about moving the knife. With the immunity, Ohana can still be prosecuted, but not for anything he said in court Tuesday. Ohana had originally claimed that perhaps his ambulance had accidentally moved it. The prosecutor refuted the claim, showing film which showed that the knife was still far from the terrorist’s body even after the ambulance came in. The prosecutors also denied Ohana’s claims that he thought the terrorist may have had a bomb strapped to his body, which would have potentially justified Azaria shooting him, saying that he would not have come so close to the body if this had been the case. When Ohana was asked why he did not hand over his footage to police, he responded:
I can’t answer without incriminating myself.
In addition, Ohana admitted to having erased a recorded phone call with Azaria’s father. Prosecutors argued that Ohana vowed to help Azaria in the criminal probe during the conversation. Prosecutors charged that Azaria admitted to police that Ohana told him to lie to Military Police and say he thought the terrorist was reaching for a knife. Ohana denied the claims, saying that he only told Azaria he would help him get a lawyer. Ohana is a known right-wing activist from Kiryat Arba who works as an ambulance driver and often takes video footage of the aftermath of terror attacks, as he did in the attack in Hebron on Mar 24. Ohana said on the stand on Tuesday:
I film terror scenes to show the world Palestinian attacks on the IDF and Israel, so they won’t think we kill innocent, nonviolent Palestinians.
Ohana said that he told Military Police probing the shooting that he could not cooperate with them further, because they were out to get Azaria, not to find the truth. The prosecution implied that Ohana left Military Police questioning in the middle because he was trying to avoid revealing information to the police.