Parents of reservist who shot hero civilian dead at Jerusalem terror attack scene write apology letter

Aviad Frija (left) at a military courtroom, Dec. 5, 2023 (Walla screenshot); Yuval Castleman. (Courtesy)
Aviad Frija (left) at a military courtroom, Dec. 5, 2023 (Walla screenshot); Yuval Castleman. (Courtesy)

The parents of Staff Sgt. (res.) Aviad Frija, one of two off-duty troops who arrived at the scene of the terror attack in Jerusalem last month and is suspected of killing Yuval Castleman, whom he apparently mistook for a terrorist, have written a letter of apology to Castleman’s parents, Hebrew media reports.

Castleman shot the perpetrators of the deadly terror attack claimed by Hamas at the entrance to Jerusalem on November 30, before he himself was shot by Frija. Graphic video from the scene showed Castleman throw away his gun, fall on his knees and raise his hands in the air while shouting “Don’t shoot” as the soldiers approached him. He was then shot again by one of them.

Castleman’s family has called his death an “execution.” On Monday, State Attorney Amit Aisman ordered the Department of Internal Police Investigations (DIPI) to open an examination into the conduct of the investigative team dealing with the killing.

An autopsy on Sunday found an M-16 bullet and pieces of shrapnel in Castleman’s exhumed body, findings which were at odds with the Israel Police’s position immediately after the incident that there were no bullets left in Castleman’s body, and that such a procedure was unnecessary.

In their letter to Castleman’s parents cited in Hebrew media reports, Frija’s parents say they “wish to share in your grief from the bottom of our son’s heart,” adding that they had wished to speak face to face but respect the family’s request for privacy.

“It is important for us to convey our sincere feelings of sorrow to you. We mourn and pain the tragic death of the late Yuval, who acted with immense bravery and courage against monstrous terrorists. We have no doubt that his action was born out of the values on which he was raised and educated.”

“We are very sorry for all the additional pain caused to you due to the way the investigating authorities conducted themselves, and for the additional pain you had to experience due to the late autopsy,” they wrote.

“Our son has been mentally broken since the attack,” Frija’s parents said, adding that their son was “a man [with] a simple working life” and “a true desire to do good to others.”

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