A delegation of Bedouin leaders and family members of the terrorist who killed four Israelis in Beersheba last week sought to pay respects to the mourning family of one of the victims, but the family refused, according to Hebrew media reports Sunday.
Menahem Yehezkel, 67, Laura Yitzhak, 43, Rabbi Moshe Kravitzky, 48, and Doris Yahbas, 49, were killed in a ramming and stabbing attack in the southern city last Tuesday.
The assailant, 34-year-old Mohammad Abu al-Qi’an from the Bedouin town of Hura in the Negev, had served four years in prison for plotting to join the fundamentalist Islamic State terror group in Syria and was released in 2019.
The Arab community in Israel has largely condemned the attack. Abu al-Qi’an’s relatives have called it a “stain” on the family and on Hura as a whole.
Police have said that Abu al-Qi’anlikely acted alone, though they interrogated two of his brothers on suspicion of knowing about his intentions and failing to prevent an act of terrorism.
The Bedouin delegation, which was to have included the deputy mayor of Hura and other officials, wished to visit Moshav Gilat near Beersheba, where Yahbas lived and was laid to rest.
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“This is a disaster, and we must come together,” said Nafez Abu al-Qi’an, a distant relative of the terrorist and a former officer in the Israeli military was part of the putative delegation.
“We will visit the family to share their pain, which is also ours,” he told the Walla news site, noting that the town of Hura was planning to build a memorial for the victims.
Yahbas’s mourning family refused the offer, however, said that they were unable to meet the attacker’s relatives in their current condition.
“At the moment we can’t accept the visit of the terrorist’s family,” they told the Kan public broadcaster. “Despite them being distant relatives, it’s inappropriate.”
Hura Deputy Mayor Yizhak Abu al-Qi’an said after the attack that the entire community had condemned Abu al-Qi’an.
“In the streets and in every home, every child completely condemns this grave incident,” he said last week, “because it’s our duty to condemn such heinous acts.”
He stressed that the attack was carried out by a single individual and that it must not come between the Jewish and Bedouin communities in the south.
“Beersheba is home to all of us,” he said.
The attack was the deadliest on Israeli civilians since June 2016, when two terrorists opened fire at Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market, killing four people and wounding 16.
The Hamas terror group praised last week’s attack, saying it “salutes the executor of the heroic operation in occupied Beersheba.” The terror group did not claim the assailant as a member, however.
“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.
Emanuel Fabian and Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report.