Bennett vows to settle score with Hamas following injury of soldier along Gaza border

St.-Sgt. Barel Shmueli, 21, was shot in his head from point-blank range by a Palestinian terrorist who approached the perimeter fence during Saturday’s riots.

By Tobias Siegal, World Israel News

“We will settle the score with those who harm our fighters and the citizens of Israel,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Sunday, after an IDF soldier was critically injured on the border with the Gaza Strip during mass riots on Saturday.

“I would like to send my best wishes for a speedy recovery and pray for the healing of Barel Hadaria Shmueli, who was wounded by a terrorist on the Gaza Strip [border] fence,” Bennett said.

St.-Sgt. Barel Shmueli, 21, was shot in his head from point-blank range by a Palestinian terrorist who approached the perimeter fence during the riots. He was evacuated by helicopter to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba for emergency surgery and is still in life-threatening condition as of Sunday afternoon, according to a statement issued by the hospital.

Israel responded with “an extensive attack” on Hamas targets in Gaza as Bennett noted, dispatching Israeli Air Force fighter jets to bomb four sites used to store and manufacture weapons in central and northern Gaza.

“Last week, I conducted a situation assessment in the Gaza Division, together with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi. I can tell you that the IDF, the Southern Command and the Gaza Division are prepared and ready for any scenario,” the prime minister said during Sunday’s Cabinet meeting.

Earlier Sunday, Shmueli’s parents, Yossi and Nitza, blamed the IDF for failing to protect their son and questioned the IDF’s rules of engagement that they believe led to the tragic incident.

“How do they let them get to close to the soldiers? How can they get so close and yet we don’t shoot? It’s our rules of engagement. They came there to kill him. This is a big failure of the IDF,” they said.

They were not alone in raising difficult questions over the incident.

A close friend and political ally of Bennett, Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi, questioned Israel’s response to the incident, calling it “shameful.”

“A Hamas security man fires at point-blank at Shmueli, and critically wounds him and what is your reaction?!?! Shooting at factories and warehouses! Shame! Where are the days that terrorists would pay with their lives for harming civilians and soldiers? Where is the deterrence? Where is the security!?! Wake up from your coma! Do not give immunity to the terrorists of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, do not give immunity to the murderers!” Davidi demanded.

Critics have noted that Bennett is refraining from a suitable response out of a desire to prevent further escalation and not to spoil his upcoming meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House later in the week.

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TPS contributed to this report.