Barkat demands inquiry into soldier’s death, says PM’s image took precedence over security

Likud MK and former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat says the government instructed the IDF to contain riots on Gazan border without using lethal force in order to help the prime minister’s image in Washington.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

MK Nir Barkat (Likud) charged the government Tuesday with making a political decision to override security considerations on the Israel-Gaza border that led to the death of St. Sgt. Barel Hadarya Shmueli and demanded a parliamentary inquiry on the issue.

In a letter he sent to Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy, Barkat wrote, “The government ordered the IDF to ‘contain‘ the events on the border with Gaza and not to cause Palestinian injuries in advance of the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington.”

“The fighters who were stationed on the border, facing Palestinian rioters, were ordered to contain the riots and were left exposed and confused [by these orders]. The death of Barel Hadarya Shmueli raises difficult questions regarding the instructions emanating from the political echelon to the military one, and requires the establishment of a parliamentary commission of inquiry that will investigate the connection between the order given by the government to the army, and the operational failure at the scene.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett flew to meet President Biden and top American administration officials last Tuesday. Shmueli was shot three days prior to the visit. During a violent demonstration at the Gazan border, several terrorists were allowed to reach the wall behind which Shmueli stood with several other soldiers, including his commander. One shot the staff sergeant at point-blank range in the head through a gun slit in the wall before fleeing back into the Strip.

Shmueli was immediately evacuated to hospital and underwent several operations over the course of the week, but he could not survive the attack and passed away Monday.

MK Itamar Ben-Gvir (Otzma Yehudit) simultaneously sent a letter to the IDF chief of staff and the military’s legal department, demanding that they open a speedy criminal investigation and find out who “abandoned” the soldier in the face of hundreds of rioting terrorists.

He also blamed the government in the wake of reports that dozens of soldiers are resigning from their reserve duty since Shmueli’s death because, they say, the IDF senior command is preventing them from from defending themselves.

Tweeting a link Wednesday to an article on the subject, he wrote, “Bennett, [Defense Minister Benny] Gantz, [Foreign Minister Yair] Lapid. This is because of your feeble policy! Shame on you!”

Afraid the government will fall apart?

Speaking at a session on the Iranian threat Tuesday, MK Ophir Akunis (Likud) said: “A soldier was killed by a savage man who is still roaming free in the Gaza Strip. So the visit to Washington is over, are you still not responding because you are afraid the government will fall apart? Because MK Mansour Abbas and the Islamic Movement, the brothers of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, they will not be in government and then there is no government.

“You are handcuffing our forces to maintain your coalition. There has never been such a disgrace. ”

In one case making the round on social media, a commander shows a list of more than 10 blacked-out names of fighters from Battalion 7035 who notified the army that they have quit. In reaction, the commander wrote, “It seems that at the rate of resignations due to the open-fire regulations, I won’t have a reserve battalion left by the next time we have border duty.”

An online protest of hundreds of soldiers has garnered thousands of supportive reactions from Israeli citizens furious over the government apparently tying the army’s hands instead of ordering it to fight terrorism properly.