Mother of soldier killed on Gaza border issues harsh report on IDF’s ‘failures’ in the incident

Nitza Shmueli says ‘every mother should be worried’ after the findings of her independent research.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The mother of a soldier killed on the Gaza border by a Hamas terrorist has issued her own report on the incident that harshly condemns the army, after not receiving one from the IDF, Walla News reported Monday.

St.-Sgt. Barel Shmueli, 21, was shot in his head from point-blank range through a slit in the concrete pillbox on the border fence with Gaza when Hamas rioters were allowed to cross the no-man’s land around the post. He died eight days later, and his attacker has yet to be caught.

According to the Shmueli family, they had demanded to know the results of the IDF investigation into the murder, but never got any official answers. On the other hand, mother Nitza told Walla, “Conversations I had with commanders, fighters, military personnel and past and current border guards do not give me rest. They raised a flood of question marks.”

So the family commissioned an independent report, which found many failures that led to their son’s death, which they now believe could have been avoided.

According to the report, the initial mistake was in intelligence, whose report held contradictory assessments whether the demonstration at the border would be peaceful or have armed protestors.

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At the end, it was very violent, as Barel himself testified, with the report noting a WhatsApp he had sent to a medic saying that aggressive demonstrators had infiltrated their space, which was backed up by others also reporting masses drawing near the wall of their post. According to the report, there was no response from higher ups to these warnings.

In addition, “There was no operational efficiency in the fact that the fighters were behind the wall,” said the report, which also maintained that the sharpshooters, including Shmueli, had no short-range line of sight, which put them in grave danger.

Several soldiers who were there, said the report, maintained that the brigade commander made an error in judgment and should have ordered a retreat from the position.

Some of the harshest criticism was reserved for the way the medical evacuation was conducted after Shmueli was shot.

“The scene of the incident was not in enemy territory or under fire, so professional, effective and urgent medical treatment was required. There was no stretcher and crew in place to pick him up at the scene, no helicopter or ambulance or medical staff was pre-arranged that could have saved his life.”

Then, the ambulance that brought Shmueli to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba took an hour and 45 minutes to get there, when the trip should have taken only 50 minutes, said the report.

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“As a mother, I deserve answers,” Nitza wrote in the document, “even if they aren’t pleasant, even if they are embarrassing, even if they reveal negligence.” What she found, she wrote, was a severe incident that ended in a terrible tragedy whose results could have been prevented.

“Every mother whose son is serving on the Gazan border or any other hot spot should be very worried about these findings,” she said.

The IDF responded that it will study the family’s report and respond when it finishes its own investigation into the incident and gives it to the family.

“From the investigations carried out so far,” added the IDF spokesperson, “the battle procedure and operational preparations for the violent riots were carried out thoroughly and comprehensively. At the same time, the interim conclusions revealed that it would have been correct to deploy and operate the force differently from the moment that the violent mob reached the defensive wall.”