Court gags new developments in probe of deadly West Bank shooting
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Court gags new developments in probe of deadly West Bank shooting

Media barred from reporting on identity of suspects; in response to president's request, opposition chief visits Raziel Shevach's mourning family at illegal outpost

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

Rabbi Raziel Shevach with his family, in an undated photo (Courtesy of the family)
Rabbi Raziel Shevach with his family, in an undated photo (Courtesy of the family)

An Israeli court issued a gag order Tuesday on new developments in the investigation of the terror attack last week that claimed the life of Raziel Shevach.

Shevach, 35, was gunned down by Palestinian terrorists while on his way home to the illegal outpost of Havat Gilad on January 9.

The gag order said that no details could be revealed about the investigation or about suspects identified by police.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, opposition leader Isaac Herzog paid a condolence visit at Shevach’s home, where settlers have been rallying for the legalization of the outpost in the wake of the attack.

“At this moment, we are all united behind the family and community and comfort them,” said Herzog, a member of the left-leaning Zionist Union party.

In this Tuesday, January 16, 2018 photo, opposition head Isaac Herzog (C) expresses his condolences to the family of Raziel Shevach, who was gunned down by Palestinian terrorists on January 9, at their home in the unauthorized West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad. (Photo credit: Roy Hadi)

During a visit by President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday, Shevach’s wife, Yael, expressed frustration over the fact that messages of condolence had only been coming from the political right. “This is not a political murder,” she told the president.

Hours later, Rivlin called Herzog and asked him to make a visit to pay his respects.

In a video statement outside the Shevach home, Herzog said Raziel and Yael Shevach “became the heart of the special community in Havat Gilad,” making no reference to the outpost’s unauthorized status.

Herzog was not the first opposition lawmaker to make a condolence visit to the Shevach home, as fellow Zionist Union MK Eitan Cabel also stopped by on Monday evening.

On Sunday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman submitted a proposal to the cabinet that would start the process of legalizing the outpost, located southeast of the Palestinian city of Nablus.

If adopted by the cabinet, the proposal would authorize the defense minister to instruct relevant government bodies to examine the legal aspects of recognizing Havat Gilad as an official settlement, a statement announcing the proposal said.

But one West Bank council chairman, speaking on the condition of anonymity, dismissed the announcement as a “spin.”

View of the West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad, January 10, 2018 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

“He’s asking the cabinet for approval to direct bodies that are already under his jurisdiction,” said the official then. “Liberman doesn’t want to make the decision himself so he’s passing it on to the cabinet.”

A spokesman for the defense minister rejected the criticism and insisted that such cabinet approval was necessary if the government wants to legalize the outpost.

Havat Gilad residents claim to have purchased the land prior to establishing the outpost in 2002. The settlers named the hilltop community after Gilad Zar, the security coordinator of the Shomron Regional Council, who was shot dead in an attack a year earlier.

Palestinians, however, have denied the purchase, claiming that the documents were falsified.

Since Shevach’s murder, settler leaders and right-wing lawmakers have called on the government to legalize the outpost. On Sunday, Rivlin termed the demand “logical” and said it merited “consideration, or attention at the very least.”

However, he added that settlement building should be done “out of love, not vengeance.”

At Shevach’s funeral on Wednesday, dozens of mourners interrupted Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s eulogy with calls for “revenge.” The Jewish Home party leader attempted to calm the crowd by saying that “the only revenge is to keep building,” and called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to legalize the outpost.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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