Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was heckled at a terror victims’ memorial on Wednesday by an Israeli stabbed in 2000, whose brother was badly hurt in an ax attack in February.
The prime minister was poised to address the bereaved relatives of the victims at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl military cemetery on Memorial Day when he was interrupted by Rahamim Cohen, who accused the premier of being too soft on terrorists.
“You said that you made a very difficult decision [in releasing terrorists in prisoner exchanges], but terror struck my family for the second time two months ago,” Cohen shouted, according to Channel 2, as his friends and relatives tried to calm him down. “I was injured 15 years ago and the wounds have not healed. And now we are acting too forgivingly and don’t know how to deal [with terror].”
Cohen’s brother, Tzvika, a security guard at the Maale Adumim mall, was seriously injured in an ax attack in February. Rahamim himself was the victim of a stabbing attack in 2000; a cab driver, he was stabbed 14 times and critically wounded by a Palestinian passenger. In late February, upon seeing a clip of his brother being assaulted, Rahamim collapsed, he told Channel 2 television at the time.
The prime minister did not begin speaking until Cohen finished his outburst and sat down.
“Believe me, I understand you all, I understand you, because I am the son of the same family [of bereavement] and know the pain,” he said.
“As the son of a bereaved family, I am connected with my entire soul to your pain. As a prime minister, I support you and salute your capacity to cope. We are in a struggle that has lasted over a hundred years. Every generation, unfortunately, has its bereavement and orphans, suffering and pain. Every generation in turn has this task, and each one has stood up to it,” Netanyahu said.
You are not alone, the prime minister told the crowd.
“Today is a difficult day. Wounds reopen. I believe that the entire nation is praying that you find the strength to heal,” he said. “You are not alone.”
The prime minister maintained Israel’s enemies “refuse to accept our presence here.”
“They see all of us, those wearing uniforms and civilians, Jews and non-Jews, they see all of us as targets for attack. A mother and her children, they attack the children, adults, elderly men, elderly women, as happened yesterday,” the prime minister said, referring to a stabbing in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
“Their appetite for murder is the product of blind hatred, of wild incitement,” he added.
The prime minister was also jeered at the memorial in 2014, when terror victims were protesting the prisoner releases of convicted Palestinian terrorists as part of peace talk agreements.
Israel on Wednesday marked its annual Memorial Day for the 23,447 soldiers and terror victims killed since 1880.