Beersheba attacker’s clan decries his ‘terrorist act’; hometown vows introspection

Joint List and Ra’am parties both slam attack at shopping center that killed four Israelis; PA stays silent

The Bedouin town of Hura in the Negev Desert, south of Beersheba, (Hadas Parush/ Flash90)
The Bedouin town of Hura in the Negev Desert, south of Beersheba, (Hadas Parush/ Flash90)

The extended family of Mohammad Ghalib Abu al-Qi’an, an Arab Israeli who killed four Israelis in Beersheba on Tuesday, issued a statement disowning his actions several hours after his deadly rampage.

“We harshly condemn this terrorist act in Beersheba today that took the lives of innocent civilians,” the Abu al-Qi’an clan said.

Hura resident Abu al-Qi’an stabbed and ran over several Israelis at a Beersheba shopping mall on Tuesday afternoon. The killings were the deadliest terror attack Israel had seen in years.

Abu al-Qi’an had previously served four years in prison for ties to the Islamic State terror group. Both his family and local leaders in Hura said he acted alone.

“This criminal action is a lone act, that represents only he who performed it. We are a family that believes in co-existence and obeying the law,” Abu al-Qi’an’s family added.

Hura mayor Habis Atawnah told The Times of Israel that schools and nurseries in the small town would devote hours of discussions to the violent attack by one of their residents.

“We will tell them that this is not our way. We want to educate our children and young people to the values of mutual respect and the sanctity of life,” Atawnah said in a phone call.

The scene of a car ramming and stabbing attack outside the ‘BIG’ shopping center in Beersheba, southern Israel, on March 22, 2022. (Flash90)

Police arrested two of the terrorist’s brothers after the attack, Hebrew media reported.

The men were not suspected of involvement in the attack, but may have seen Abu al-Qi’an leave the house with a knife.

Arab Israeli political parties quickly and harshly condemned the attack. Both the Islamist Ra’am party – which is a member of the coalition government — and the opposition Joint List party used the word “pigua,” which is widely used in Hebrew to describe any nationalistic attack, but also strongly implies terrorism.

“Ra’am condemns this despicable attack in Beersheba and sends its condolences to the families of those murdered,” Ra’am said in statement.

“Ra’am calls on all citizens to preserve the common, fragile social fabric, to be responsible and advance a discourse of tolerance in this difficult hour,” the party added.

Joint List chief Ayman Odeh said he was shocked by the stabbing attack, which he deemed a “murderous incident.”

“Violence is not our way and we must condemn it with all our might,” Odeh wrote on Twitter.

The four victims of a terror attack in Beersheba on March 22, 2022: Laura Yitzhak, top left; Rabbi Moshe Kravitzky, top right; Doris Yahbas, bottom left; Menahem Yehezkel, bottom right. (Social media/courtesy)

Palestinian terror groups praised the killings, although none took responsibility for Abu al-Qi’an’s actions.

“The occupation’s crimes shall be met with heroic operations: stabbings, rammings and shootings,” Hamas spokesperson Abd al-Latif al-Qanou told official Hamas radio.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority stayed silent, neither condoning nor condemning the violence. But official Palestinian Authority television released a poster describing Abu al-Qi’an as a “martyr.”

شهيد عملية بئر السبع الأسير المحرر محمد غالب أبو القيعان من بلدة حورة بالنقبللمزيد تابعونا عبر تلغرام :

Posted by ‎تلفزيون فلسطين Palestine TV‎ on Tuesday, March 22, 2022

While PA security forces work closely with Israel to crack down on West Bank terror, most Palestinians view terrorist attacks on Israelis as legitimate and the PA rarely condemns them publicly.

The incident quickly spread through Arabic-language media. In Qatar, well-known Palestinian-Jordanian comedian Nicholas Khoury — who has a popular show on Al Jazeera’s YouTube channel — lauded the killings.

“Four [dead]. Blessed are your hands,” Khoury wrote on Facebook, referring to Abu al-Qi’an.

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