The guns were never confiscated but taken for ballistic tests, said police in response to public protests.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
The Israeli Police are returning the handguns used by two civilians who shot and killed a terrorist in Beersheba Tuesday. Four civilians were killed and two injured in the attack.
A police spokesperson had already said in a statement Tuesday that “in order to avoid mental anguish for citizens who acted bravely and determinedly, the necessary tests will already be carried out tonight, and when finished, the guns will be returned to their owners.”
The weapons, which are being returned Wednesday, were taken for ballistic examinations, the police explained, “as part of accepted investigatory procedures, at the end of which they will be returned.”
A senior police official clarified that when one of the two civilians who shot Muhammad Abu Al-Kiyan was brought in for questioning, “the citizen was not interrogated; rather, he testified [as to what had happened].”
Unlike the first man to shoot the terrorist — bus driver Arthur Haimov, who has talked to the press about his role in stopping the attack — the second man, who shot Al-Kiyan immediately after the terrorist fell, has not been interviewed nor even named in the mainstream media. According to Channel 14, he created a scene in the police station when his weapon was not immediately returned to him.
Lawyer Adi Keidar of the Honenu organization, which provides legal aid to those arrested by police after defending themselves against Arab terrorism, told the network that he had come to help the man.
Keidar explained that the man’s demand was reasonable “in light of his fear due to his picture being spread everywhere [on social media], and even his address has been publicized.”
“The police,” he added, “acted disrespectfully by dismissing him, [saying] that he could hire a private security firm.”
In the network’s partial video clip of the confrontation, an officer also threatens the man with arrest.
“Don’t play games,” the police officer said after telling him twice that he could no longer stay in the office and that if he wanted to wait for his weapon, he would have to go downstairs.
After the man asks for a solution because his identity is “all over Whatsapp,” the officer repeated his demand and then added, “If it’s not clear to you yet, I’ll detain you.”
“So detain me,” the man answered, and the officer is seen calling out to a subordinate to send colleagues to take the man “to the station.” In the event, the man was not arrested.
The police moved quickly in this case, possibly due to the public outcry that was joined by several government ministers.
“Indeed, the Israel Police has a procedure that every fired weapon must undergo a ballistic test,” said Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked. “In this case, it is necessary to deviate from the procedure, use common sense and allow the hero who shot a terrorist to return home with his weapon.”
Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel said, “The police should release the shooter now with his personal weapon and a commendation on the elimination of the terrorist in real time.”