IDF soldier detained for calling to avenge rabbi killed in terror attack

Arrest follows distribution of fliers at enlistment center urging troops to ‘restore national honor’ following Raziel Shevach’s murder

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Oneg Hen Shahar explains why he decided to enlist in the IDF in a video uploaded to YouTube on December 6, 2017. (Screen capture/YouTube)
Oneg Hen Shahar explains why he decided to enlist in the IDF in a video uploaded to YouTube on December 6, 2017. (Screen capture/YouTube)

Military police on Tuesday arrested a soldier responsible for distributing fliers at the IDF enlistment center calling to avenge the killing of Raziel Shevach by Palestinian terrorists last week.

The handouts invited new recruits interested in “restoring the national honor” to join a special forces unit that would avenge Shevach’s murder.

The 35-year-old father of six had been on his way home to the northern West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad when he was gunned down on a road southeast of Nablus last Tuesday.

The detained soldier, identified as Oneg Hen Shahar, posted a video to Facebook the day before entering the army last month declaring that his enlistment stemmed from a desire to “change the picture.”

Rabbi Raziel Shevach with his family, in an undated photo (Courtesy of the family)

“A Jew, and certainly a Jewish soldier, is not a rag, and an Arab who tries to harm  the people of Israel will simply get a bullet to the head,” Shahar asserted.

The fliers included the symbol of the IDF, leading recipients to believe the army had sanctioned the material. It also contained a line stating that the content should not be discussed with non-military officials.

In a phone conversation with Hadashot news, Shahar said he is working on re-instituting the disbanded Unit 101, a controversial special forces squad established by former prime minister Ariel Sharon in the 1950s to carry out reprisal operations against Palestinians who had carried out terror attacks on Israelis.

“We hope and believe that such a unit will solve many security problems in the country today,” Shahar said, claiming that he already had recruited 20 recent enlistees.

The far-right activist added that he was trying to delay his army placement until after receiving permission from the IDF chief of staff to re-establish the special forces unit.

In a statement announcing Shahar’s arrest, the army said it had opened an investigation into the fliers.

“The IDF views harshly and condemns every case of violence and incitement and emphasizes that any such act will be dealt with severely,” the statement added.

At Shevach’s funeral last Wednesday, dozens of mourners interrupted Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s eulogy with calls for “revenge.” The Jewish Home party leader attempted to calm the crowd by saying that “the only revenge is to keep building” and called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to legalize the outpost.

President Reuven Rivlin struck a slightly different chord during a Sunday condolence visit at the Shevach home where he told the family that “the land of Israel is built out of love, not vengeance.”

Responding to the president’s words, Shevach’s father Moshe said, “We do not care about vengeance. We want rebirth.”


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