While the terrorist’s identity is known to Israel, senior Hamas officials believe there won’t be retaliation at this time.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
The terrorist who shot IDF sniper Barel Shmueli at point blank range in August 2021 has been identified, and was recently released from Hamas’ protective custody, Ynet reported Thursday.
In an episode that proved to be an embarrassing blunder for the IDF, the Gazan man came directly up to the separation fence marking the border with Israel during a demonstration that devolved into a violent riot, and shot Shmueli through a slit in the barrier.
Shmueli, gravely wounded, was evacuated to a hospital and died of his wounds several days later.
According to Ynet, the Hamas terror group, which rules the Strip, immediately took the man into protective custody and ordered a media blackout on images of the man’s face, out of fear that he would be assassinated by Israel.
He was reportedly kept in an underground detention center since the incident occurred, but was released the past few days.
Palestinian sources told Ynet that the man is affiliated with Islamic Jihad, not Hamas, and is from the eastern Gaza City neighborhood of Shejaiya, near where the killing took place.
Since his release, the terrorist has been keeping a low profile and is presumably on a hit list for Israeli assassination.
“The terrorist who shot at the Border Police undercover is a dead man,” IDF sources told Walla News.
“Nobody will talk about the time or place, [but] it is clear to everyone, including Hamas, what will happen in the future.”
Although Israel knows the identity of the man, senior Hamas officials don’t believe that the Jewish State will assassinate him at this time, because killing him would almost certainly trigger rocket fire from Gaza-based terror groups on Israel’s southern communities.
It’s more likely, Hamas believes, that Israel would assassinate the man during a future clash, rather than running the risk of potentially setting off a fresh round of fighting.
Shmueli’s killing sparked uproar around the IDF’s rules of engagement and general procedures around responding to rioters approaching the separation fence.
The parents of the slain soldier had harsh words for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, whom they accused of endangering their son by maintaining policies that keep soldiers hands tied in combat situations.
Hila Shmueli, the sister of the deceased, responded to the Ynet report in a statement on Thursday morning.
“In these days where we’re trying to come back to life, we woke up this morning to a painful headline. We expect the State of Israel to settle the score with Barel’s killer, no matter his whereabouts, without worrying about [the response from the international community] and it should be done as soon as possible.”
“We are also waiting for the [results of] the full IDF investigation into the incident, which will reveal the lead-up to the operation, the real-time responses to the disturbances, and the medical evacuation.”
“We feel that there are too many troubling questions that remain open and the IDF is in no hurry to answer them.”
“Any investigation that is not a deep, thorough and courageous investigation seriously hurts us as a family, tarnishes the memory of Barel who sacrificed his life for the state, and may lead to the next failure.”