ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 147

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PM: Gun ownership saves lives, mishaps happen, 'that's life'

‘He was executed’: Father of man killed after taking out terrorists decries response

Moshe Castleman says son ‘went down on his knees’ and yelled at soldiers ‘Don’t shoot, I’m Jewish,’ after ending Jerusalem attack; says family informed of probe by friend in police

Yuval Castleman is fatally shot after preventing the continuation of a deadly terror attack in Jerusalem on November 30, 2023. (X screenshot; used in accordance with clause 27a of the copyright law)
Yuval Castleman is fatally shot after preventing the continuation of a deadly terror attack in Jerusalem on November 30, 2023. (X screenshot; used in accordance with clause 27a of the copyright law)

The father of Yuval Castleman, the armed civilian who was shot dead by a soldier after stopping a deadly terror attack in Jerusalem last week, said Sunday that his son was “executed” and that no officials had been in touch with the family in the days since.

Castleman was driving on the other side of the street from the bus stop where Thursday’s terror attack was taking place.

He stopped his car, crossed the road, and engaged the two Palestinian terrorists, who had already killed three people. Soldiers then mistook him for an additional assailant and fired at him. Graphic video showed that even after Castleman put his gun down and held his hands in the air, he was shot by an off-duty soldier.

According to additional details reported Sunday, Castleman also yelled at the soldiers until he collapsed, “Look at my ID, I am Jewish.”

Moshe Castleman, his father, said that the soldier responsible “carried out an execution,” and demanded a thorough investigation.

Yuval “did everything he needed to do so they could identify him. He went down on his knees, opened his jacket to show he didn’t have any explosives on him, yelled at them, ‘Don’t shoot, I’m Jewish, I’m Israeli,’ and they continued to shoot him,” he told Army Radio, adding that Yuval was shot in the jaw and chin, which would have impeded his ability to call for aid.

Yuval Doron Castleman. (Courtesy)

“How is it possible to think he was a terrorist? It’s inconceivable,” he said, questioning how the soldiers could have mistaken his son for a terrorist when he had shot at the terrorists moments before.

“No official spoke with us. We discovered by chance that his personal effects needed to be collected from the Jerusalem police station,” he said, adding that while he was in the hospital, the family was not explicitly told where he was and had to search for him themselves.

Yuval had served in the Border Police, then later in the Israel Police, before becoming a lawyer, his father said.

Moshe Castleman (Channel 12 screenshot, December 3, 2023; used in accordance with clause27a of the copyright law)

Castleman said that an officer who had known his son by chance informed the family that a Military Police investigation into his death would probably commence on Sunday.

Yuval’s uncle Ran Castleman also wrote on Twitter overnight Saturday that officials had not been in touch with the family.

“No official representative has contacted us until now, and we don’t understand why the police are not investigating a suspected murder immediately,” Yuval’s uncle Ran Castleman posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Israeli security forces have been condemned in the past for shooting and killing terror suspects even after they have been disarmed and no longer pose a threat, in contravention of open fire orders.

The shooting has also sparked discussion on the consequences of civilian gun ownership.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir has eased licensing restrictions during his time in office, and applications and approvals for permits have skyrocketed since Hamas’s October 7 massacre. The minister has promoted the belief that more guns in the hands of civilians will save lives in cases of terror attacks.

Security forces at the scene of a terror shooting attack at the entrance to Jerusalem, November 30, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

At a press conference Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touched on the matter, saying that “the reality of armed civilians is that many times it saves lives and prevents a big disaster.”

“In the current situation, the policy should be continued. We may pay a price for it, that’s life.”

Moshe Castleman slammed Netanyahu for the comments, saying that he probably received secondhand information from officials but did not see the video.

“I also have a personal weapon. When I carry a gun I have criminal liability. I can’t fire against a weapon unless I am sure of their identity,” he said.

Yuval Castleman’s brother Shaked also told Channel 12 news Sunday morning that if the prime minister had seen the video, “he would not have said what he said.”

“It’s not a two-sided story. The person who was on the other side did not do the correct things,” he said.

War cabinet Minister Benny Gantz also responded to Netanyahu, posting on X that the incident “is not ‘that’s life,’ but a warning sign that requires us to take lessons that will save lives in the future.”

The matter “requires a comprehensive investigation of the circumstances that led to it, the procedures, and the adherence to open fire rules.”

Three other people were killed and five were wounded during Thursday’s terror shooting attack, which Hamas took credit for.

According to police, at around 7:40 a.m. Thursday, two Palestinian gunmen got out of a vehicle on Weizmann Boulevard at the main entrance to the capital and opened fire at people at a bus stop.

Footage shows the two off-duty soldiers and Castleman returning fire, killing the two terrorists. Both soldiers had been on a break from fighting in the Gaza Strip, and were heading back to the front line when the attack occurred.

After initially saying it had no plans to investigate the incident, the IDF changed tack on Friday, saying that following the findings of an initial probe by the Shin Bet and Israel Police, it was decided that the Military Police’s investigatory unit — known in Hebrew by its acronym Metzah —  would also take part in the probe.

Frija will be questioned Sunday, according to the Ynet news site, while the other soldier on the scene, who was wounded, will be interviewed at a later stage.

Channel 13 reported that several people, including the injured soldier, called on Frija to stop shooting at Yuval. The soldier’s gunfire also hit civilian vehicles at the scene.

The other soldier took care of the Castleman, who was critically injured.

Frija spoke to Channel 14 news before it was made public that a civilian had been shot, expressing pride in his actions, and did not describe the incident with Castleman.

“I was at the right place at the wrong time. But every soldier is dying to do this,” he said, adding that he was part of the so-called Hilltop Youth — extremist settlers who establish outposts in the West Bank and commit acts of violence against Palestinian residents.

He said he never participated in “riots, but I was part of the mainstream.”

Tensions in Israel and the West Bank have been high since October 7, when some 3,000 terrorists burst through the Gaza border into Israel in a Hamas-led attack, killing at least 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and seizing some 240 hostages.

Israel responded with an aerial campaign and subsequent ground operation with the goal of destroying Hamas and ending its 16-year rule over Gaza and securing the release of the hostages.

The IDF has continued to operate throughout the West Bank and police have been on high alert in Israel, in light of concerns about a possible escalation of violence following the release of Palestinian security prisoners in the exchange for abducted Israeli hostages.

The Hamas terrorists in the Thursday shooting were from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher.

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