Hundreds gathered in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday evening to commemorate the two victims of a terrorist attack in the Barkan industrial zone in the West Bank in October, and to demand tougher government action against terror.
Earlier this week, the alleged gunman behind the Barkan shooting, Ashraf Na’alowa, was located and killed.
Saturday’s rally, planned before Na’alowa was located, was originally intended to call on the government to step up its efforts to capture him. The organizers of the rally then decided that the event would focus on a demand for harsher measures against attackers to increase security for Israeli citizens.
During the rally, family members of the victims of the attack, Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 28, and Ziv Hajbi, 35, urged the government to employ tougher measures against terrorists and their families, with some calling for a death sentence for terrorists, or expulsion for their families.
Iris Hajbi, Ziv’s mother, called for both.
“My son was murdered and they are talking to me about [demolishing] walls,” Hajbi said of Israel’s practice of demolishing the homes of terrorists’ family members as a deterrent for future attacks. “These families should know that what will happen to them is that the families will be exiled from this country.”
Levengrond Yehezkel’s widower Guy Yehezkel shared similar sentiments.
“We can’t take back what’s happened to us, but we’re trying to prevent the next terror attack, even if it’s the most minor one there is,” he told Channel 10 news. “We want to change the policy. To bring back deterrence, to demolish terrorists’ homes, [to instate] the death penalty, and to expel their families.”
Early Thursday morning, Israeli forces tried to arrest Na’alowa in a joint operation of the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet and the Israel Police. He was killed during the arrest, the Shin Bet said, without providing additional information on the circumstances or the location of the raid. Army Radio said he was found in Nablus in the northern West Bank.
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According to the Shin Bet, Na’alowa was planning to conduct a second terror attack, “which was prevented with the [death] of the assailant.” The security service said he was armed when troops arrived to arrest him.
“Today we represent everyone — left and right, secular and religious — Palestinian terrorism does not distinguish between sectors,” Rafi Levengrond, Kim’s father, said during the rally.
Levengrond went on to point out the brutality of the attack, during which Na’alowa used zip-ties to bind Kim’s hands before shooting her.
“I do not wish those experiences for my enemies. The fear and helplessness and the pain she went through,” he said.
Na’alowa, 23, from the West Bank village of Shuweika near Tulkarem, was on the run for over two months, repeatedly eluding capture by Israel security forces. A number of his relatives and alleged accomplices were detained and indicted as part of the manhunt.
Levengrond Yehezkel was a secretary and Hajbi worked in accounting at the Alon Group’s factory in the Barkan industrial park. Na’alowa was employed there as an electrician. A third victim was wounded in the attack.
There has been an increase in the number of attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers in recent weeks, after months of relative calm in the area, raising concerns of a potential renewed outbreak of regular, serious violence in the region.