Bennett says civilians who shot terrorist ‘deserve medal’; holds meet on Arab crime

Day after 4 Israelis killed in Beersheba, police hold situational assessments amid fears of further attacks

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett leads a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on March 14, 2022.  (Marc Israel Sellem/POOLFlash90)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett leads a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on March 14, 2022. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOLFlash90)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held a meeting Wednesday with members of the ministerial panel for combating crime and violence in Arab society, a day after a Bedouin man murdered four people in a terror attack in Beersheba.

“We are meeting this evening, one day after the abhorrent murderous terror attack in Beersheba,” Bennett said at the start of the meeting, according to a statement from his office. “Here, I would like to again commend the two civilians who acted with resourcefulness and courage and simply saved lives.”

The terrorist, identified as Mohammad Ghaleb Abu al-Qi’an, was shot dead by two armed civilians.

“They deserve a medal, no less than a medal, for their resourcefulness and for seeking to engage [the terrorist],” he said. “This is how all Israelis need to act in the face of a terrorist attack.”

Among those who participated in the meeting with Bennett were the ministers of justice, interior and public security, as well as Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara.

Security forces have acted to reach everyone who had direct or indirect contact with the terrorist, Bennett told ministers.

Arthur Chaimov, a bus driver who shot a terrorist after a deadly stabbing attack in Beersheba, speaks to the Kan public broadcaster, March 22, 2022. (screenshot)

“Whoever aided and abetted, inspired, incited or cooperated – we will reach them,” he said.

Al-Qi’an was a released terror convict from the town of Hura in the southern Negev region of the country.

Police arrested two of his brothers after the attack. According to unconfirmed media reports, the two are suspected of possibly aiding al-Qi’an. The brothers deny that they knew of al-Qi’an’s plans or that they provided him with the knife he used, Kan reported.

Mohammad Ghaleb Abu al-Qi’an. (Courtesy)

Earlier in the day, Jewish and Arab community leaders in southern Israel met with security officials in order to prepare for the upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover and the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

The meeting with Southern District police officials at the Ramat Negev Regional Council outside the town of Shizaf was attended by the head of the local authority, Eran Doron, Dimona Mayor Benny Biton, Lakiya’s Ahmad al-Assad, Kuseife’s Abd al-Aziz Nassara, and Ar’ara Banegev’s Naif Abu Arar.

The terrorist in a deadly Beersheba attack on March 22, 2022 lunges at a target and is shot. (Screenshot: Twitter)

Police southern region commander Peretz Amar said the meeting comes ahead of the Jewish and Muslim holidays, which are “a sensitive period that has broad implications.”

Amar said that all local leaders “expressed their willingness to work together to act against extremist elements.”

Doron, head of the Ramat Negev Regional Council, said that “it’s in all our interest to work together for the development and prosperity of the entire region and to maintain the peace and security of our residents,”

Amid fears of a rise in violence during Ramadan, police held several situational assessments during the day, which also examined the possibility of further terror attacks even before the Muslim festival starts, Kan reported.

The assessment of further violence came in light of a spate of attacks over the past month, of which the Beersheba stabbing was the latest.

A security source told the station that there has been a noticeable increase in incitement against the state.

As a precaution, an additional 120 police officers were to be deployed in Beersheba.

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)

Officials at the meetings agreed that Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in the Old City will be the most sensitive locations in the coming period. Clashes on the Temple Mount during Ramadan in 2021 helped fan violence that eventually escalated into an 11-day conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip that killed hundreds of people, predominantly in the Palestinian enclave. There was also deadly violence between Jews and Arabs in Israel.

Officials also concluded that there should be an increase in digital surveillance of those identified as possible terror threats, such as prisoners with a background of security offenses.

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