Minister reveals classified details of 1984 Syria death of soldier under his command
On eve of Memorial Day, Barlev says in interview that death of Barak Sharabi, 21, ‘deep inside Syrian territory’ is among those he finds hardest; military censor later lifts gag
Public Security Minister Omer Barlev revealed the classified details of a soldier’s 1984 death in a television interview on Tuesday, leaving military censors scrambling before they decided to lift the ban on further publication of the information.
Barlev was interviewed by the Kan public broadcaster on the eve of Memorial Day to honor fallen soldiers and those killed in terror attacks, when he revealed previously unpublicized details regarding the death of Staff Sergeant Barak Sharabi.
“He was killed while under my command, deep inside Syrian territory,” Barlev said in a radio interview, explaining that the commando was killed when Barlev was a commander of the elite General Staff Reconnaissance Unit, known in Hebrew as Sayeret Matkal.
Barlev made the comments in response to a question about how he feels on the eve of Memorial Day. The minister had a long career in the military.
“It’s a hard and emotional day for me,” Barlev said, noting that he needed to take a deep breath before continuing. “Many of my commanders and those under my command were killed over the past 40 years, as well as those with whom I went to school and the army. And it’s hard, and it goes with me throughout life.”
Barlev was asked if any deaths particularly stayed with him, at which point he mentioned Sharabi’s death as one of the three that affected him the most.
According to the government’s memorial website, Sharabi was born in 1963 in Kfar Hanagid in the center of the country.
He was drafted in 1981, initially into the navy. However after deciding that he and the sea “do not go together,” he volunteered for Sayeret Matkal.
The website says he died “while fulfilling his duty” on December 18, 1984. He was 21 years old at the time of his death.
In the same interview, Barlev mistakenly claimed that there were no murders in the last month. But a security guard was killed in a terror attack at the entrance to the West Bank settlement of Ariel on Friday.
“There were 15 people killed during the month of Ramadan and there have been hundreds and thousands of people killed over the years here, up until today. In the last month there were no murders, and in the previous month there were severe attacks,” Barlev said.
A spokesperson for Barlev later said that the minister “was wrong and regrets it.”
Tuesday’s interview was not the first time Barlev has misspoken.
In March, Barlev sparked anger when he vowed at the funeral of Beersheba terror victim Doris Yahbas to not rest until her killer was found and brought to justice, despite the fact that the terrorist — who had stabbed her to death and killed three others — died at the scene after being shot by passersby.