The two men who shot at a terrorist who murdered four people in Beersheba Tuesday will have their guns returned to them Wednesday morning, police said.
Ballistic tests on the weapons were completed overnight in Jerusalem, police said, and the guns will be given back to their owners.
On Tuesday, a police spokesperson said in a statement that ballistic tests on the guns were an “inseparable” part of the investigation into the attack.
“In order to avoid mental anguish for citizens who acted bravely and determinedly, the necessary tests will be done tonight and when finished the guns will be returned to their owners,” the statement read.
The statement, which also praised the two for their actions, seemed to come as a response to pressure from right-wing politicians and others who derided the decision to take away the shooters’ guns for tests.
One of the shooters, whose name has not been publicized, had fought with police and refused to leave a police station, saying he feared traveling to his West Bank home without his gun.
באר שבע, רגעי הירי במחבל, היורה השתהה זמן רב במיוחד pic.twitter.com/GTfIiN4J2J
— Yossi Davidov (@yossidavidov10) March 22, 2022
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who tweeted that “in this case, [police] need to depart from standard procedure, think straight, and allow the hero who shot a terrorist to go home with his gun.”
Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel called for “police to immediately release the shooter with his gun, and give him a medal for killing a terrorist in real-time.”
Four people were killed and two others injured Tuesday by the knifeman, an Arab Israeli, in the attack.
The victims were identified as Doris Yahbas, 49, a mother of three; Laura Yitzhak, 43, also a mother of three; Rabbi Moshe Kravitzky, 48, a father of four; and Menahem Yehezkel, 67, a brother to four.
The injured victims were evacuated to the Soroka Medical Center in serious condition and were stable as of Wednesday morning, the hospital said, noting it was also treating several people suffering from shock.
Following his stabbing spree, the terrorist was eventually confronted by an armed bus driver, who attempted to get him to lower his weapon, footage from the scene showed. The attacker lunged at the driver, who shot him alongside a second armed Israeli civilian. First responders reported that the stabber died from gunshot wounds.
Palestinian media identified the stabber as 34-year-old Mohammad Ghaleb Abu al-Qi’an, from the Bedouin town of Hura in the Negev. Abu al-Qi’an, who died of his wounds at the scene, had served four years in prison for plotting to join the fundamentalist Islamic State terror group in Syria. He was released in 2019. Police said he likely acted alone in Tuesday’s attack.
On Wednesday morning, police said in a statement that two of Abu al-Qi’an’s family members, identified by Hebrew media as his brothers, were arrested and interrogated overnight. They are suspected of knowing about Abu al-Qi’an’s intentions and failing to prevent an act of terrorism. They will be brought before a judge at the Ashkelon Magistrate Court later to be remanded later Wednesday.