JERUSALEM — Israeli authorities said on Thursday they were taking action to contain a backlash against military officials following the rare conviction of a soldier who killed an already badly wounded Palestinian assailant in the West Bank last year.
The case has deeply divided Israelis and also cast the government in a dispute with the Israeli military. A military court on Wednesday convicted Sgt. Elor Azaria of manslaughter charges in the March shooting, a verdict that could deliver up to 20 years in prison.
The proceedings have also sparked an unprecedented campaign of support for Azaria and against the military establishment, long the country’s most admired body.
In protests outside the courtroom, demonstrators chanted veiled death threats against military chief Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot. The trial’s three military judges and the lead prosecutor have also faced threats and according to Israeli media have been assigned bodyguards.
Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said on Thursday he was launching a probe into the chants on suspicion that they amounted to incitement to violence.
The protesters had chanted: “Gadi be careful, Rabin is looking for a friend” — a reference to slain Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated by a Jewish extremist in 1995.
Police said on Thursday that they arrested an Israeli man for inciting on Facebook against military judges who convicted Azaria. Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said another Israeli woman was also questioned over Facebook posts. She said police will act against those inciting to violence against public officials.