Bennett accused of apathy in conversation with mortally wounded soldier’s father
As prime minister, one of Naftali Bennett’s functions is to comfort the families of IDF soldiers. This week, Bennett failed horribly in this role.
21-year-old Barel Hadaria Shmueli from Beer Yaakov in central Israel was shot in the head at point-blank range by a Palestinian rioter on Saturday. Shmueli underwent surgery at Soroka hospital in Beersheba and is still in intensive care in a life-threatening condition.
Shmueli was serving in the IDF Border Patrol (Magav) division as a sniper in the elite undercover mista’arvim unit. He had taken up a position on the security wall separating Israel from Gaza and was using a small hole in the wall to protect his section when a Palestinian with a pistol ran up to the wall and fired several shots through the hole, hitting Shmueli.
Bennett’s dialogue with Shmueli’s father was posted on social media.
“I need to ask you a question,” Yossi Shmueli said to the prime minister. “Why are you continuing with these mistakes? [The enemy] approaches all the way up to the security fence. Where do you live? What world are you in? You can’t react before this happens? Really, Mr. Prime Minister! Wake upYou know, Mr. prime minister, do not shoot, yes shoot, get an order, what is it? What are you afraid of? You can’t make decisions? Wake up! Are you afraid? Who are you afraid of? [Mansour] Abbas? Are you a coward? Do something,” Barel’s father begged him. “I shouldn’t be in the position that I need to tell you this. You are a coward. You and your entire government are cowards. Throw the [terrorsits] out of the area. Make them stay back a kilometer.”
“Don’t you have children? This was my only child. What do you have to say?” Yossi asked.
Bennett inquired where his son was a patient. Yossi replied that his son was in Soroka Hospital.
“You should come,” Yossi said. “We are not the kind of people who make pogroms as they do to our soldiers. Come. Be a man.”
Bennett inquired about Barel’s condition and his father replied that he was still in critical condition.
“Come visit your soldier,” Yossi repeated. “In two days you are going to forget everything like nothing ever happened. Yes, Mr Prime Minister, like nothing ever happened. What world do you live in? Wake up! Take this personally. Take responsibility. Let’s see if you come.”
His mother, Nitza Shmueli, railed against PM Bennett in an interview with 103 FM Radio on Monday morning.
“None of the senior commanders came to visit my son at the hospital, when he underwent an 8-hour operation,” Nitza said “No one came.”
“Bennett called in the middle of the night and did not even know my son’s name,” Niza Shmueli said. “Mr. Bennett called at 10:30 pm and he asked Barel’s father, whose name is Yossi, ‘How is Yossi? How is he feeling?’ He said to him, his name is Barel, ‘Oh, sorry. How does he feel?’ The prime minister should call to ask how he feels? Where are you? Where! Where is the chief of staff? “
“Oh, sorry. How is he doing?” Bennett then asked, according to Nitza. “The prime minister has to call and ask how he’s doing? Where are you? Where? Where is the chief of staff?!”
“I need to ask you a question,” Yossi Shmueli said to the prime minister. “Why are you continuing with the rules of engagement.
“My son is fighting for his life, his blood, his breath, for nothing,” she said. “The country isn’t worth it, and I’m not getting any answers. A 12-year-old terrorist shoots him point-blank, and all this knowing that our fighters were not allowed to shoot and respond. Why did they send my son? Why? I want an answer.”
“[Barel] is not well. We need a lot of prayers, I’m asking and begging people to pray that our Barel will get back on his feet, will return to his family, to life,” said the soldier’s mother.
Nitza related that former prime minister and the current head of the opposition, Benjamin Netanyahu, had a much more productive conversation with the bereaved parents despite calling from the United States where he is vacationing.
“Benjamin Netanyahu called at midnight, with questions and well wishes. He cried on the phone — he cried,” she recalled. “He knew every detail, asked about his surgeries. Mr. Bennett didn’t even know his name, asked which hospital he was in. What an embarrassment.”
Shmueli’s father criticized the military on Sunday for the “error” that allowed rioters to get so close to the fence and open fire on him.
“I ask only that he lives, no more than that,” the father, Yossi, said. “Let all the people of Israel pray for his recovery.”
Prayers are requested for the recovery of Shmueli by his father, Yossi. In Jewish tradition, such prayers for mercy are given in the name of the mother. In this case, supplicants should pray for the healing of Barel ben Nitza.
Israel in the News