Netanyahu apologizes for remarks that tie soldier on trial for manslaughter to those killed

Marcy Oster

Elior Azaria arriving to Jaffa Military Court, June 1, 2016. (Flash90)

Elor Azaria arriving to Jaffa Military Court, June 1, 2016. (Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized for remarks which seemed to compare the suffering of the family of the family of a soldier on trial for manslaughter and the parents of fallen soldiers.

Netanyahu on Saturday night told Israel’s Channel 2 that he did not regret calling the family of Elor Azaria, who shot a downed Palestinian terrorist in Hebron saying he believed that he was still a threat and who is now on trial for the Palestinian’s murder.

Netanyahu called the soldier’s father, Charlie Azaria, days after the incident in March to offer his support, which critics deemed inappropriate.

In the Channel 2 interview, Netanyahu was asked if he has called other parents of soldiers accused of violating IDF rules. The prime minister said he has not, but added:  “I have called many parents in distress over the fact their children were killed, or are missing or were killed and are missing. There is a lot of distress among citizens of Israel on this and I want you to understand this.”

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“There are countless parents who see their children—male and female soldiers—who are put in almost impossible situations. On the one hand, they need to protect themselves and on the other hand—and it is not a simple problem—need not to be light on the trigger. It isn’t easy because I was in this situation, I was in many instances, encounters or near-encounters with the enemy, and I needed to decide when I shoot and when I don’t shoot…it wasn’t easy and I think that for any soldier it isn’t easy,” he also said.

Netanyahu apologized on Sunday morning in a post on Facebook.

“I apologize if my remarks were misunderstood. I did not intend in any way to compare the suffering of bereaved families, a suffering I am very familiar with, to the situation of other parents in distress. There is no comparison and can be no comparison,” the post read.

Netanyahu’s office also released a statement directed at critics of his remarks.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu didn’t compare between the soldier Elor Azaria and fallen soldiers. This is a low, perverse and deceitful attempt to present his words as such. Prime Minister Netanyahu respects the families of fallen soldiers and the families of missing soldiers and is very aware of their impossible pain,” the statement said.