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Mother of slain border cop backtracks after calling PM a ‘dog’ and ‘murderer’

Nitza Shmueli says she was ‘filled with pain and frustration’ and acknowledges her social media posts against Naftali Bennett should have been ‘worded differently’

The mother of Border Police officer Barel Hadaria Shmueli speaks at his funeral in Tel Aviv on August 30, 2021. Shmueli died nine days after being shot in the head during riots on the Gaza border. (Police spokesperson)
The mother of Border Police officer Barel Hadaria Shmueli speaks at his funeral in Tel Aviv on August 30, 2021. Shmueli died nine days after being shot in the head during riots on the Gaza border. (Police spokesperson)

The mother of Barel Hadaria Shmueli, a Border Police officer who was killed by a Gaza gunman at the border last month, apologized on Wednesday for calling Prime Minister Naftali Bennett a “dog” and “murderer” on social media.

“From this pain that no one can understand I wrote last night a few words here in great anger. My blood filled with pain and frustration made me write difficult things that would have been better written differently. I stand behind the content of what I wrote and realize the day after I had to use other words,” Nitza Shmueli wrote.

Bennett, speaking to Channel 12 news on Tuesday, apologized for “the pain I caused” to the family of Shmueli. “I made a mistake,” he said, referring to a phone call he made to the family in which he confused Shmueli’s first name with that of his father. “I apologize to the family, but it is important to note that he was not murdered, he fell while fulfilling his duty.”

Shmueli, a sniper, was using a hole in the security wall to fire through during violent protests on the Gaza border. A Palestinian managed to run up to the wall undetected and fire through the hole, hitting Shmueli in the head at point-blank range.

In response to Bennett’s Tuesday interview, Shmueli’s mother called the prime minister a “dog” and “murderer” on social media later that night, before erasing the post.

“Be ashamed, you dog,” she wrote on Facebook.

“How dare you say my son wasn’t murdered, you’re a murderer with blood on your hands… I promise you, Bennett, we will someday meet,” she added ominously.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett leads a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on September 5, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Later on Tuesday, she issued another post which has since been deleted as well, calling Bennett a “clown.”

“Clown Bennett. Do you even know what a battle is? You lost the battle against Bibi, you wimp,” she wrote, referring to former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu by his nickname.

Both posts on Tuesday night were only online for a number of minutes before being deleted. Nonetheless, Nitza Shmueli shared a news website article that quoted her now-removed post verbatim.

Some of Shmueli’s family members as well as right-wing anti-government activists have claimed the Bennett government has tied the military’s hands along the Gaza border, restricting its use of firepower and thus endangering soldiers in order to maintain the coalition with Ra’am, the Islamist Arab party in the coalition.

“The prime minister is a disgrace as far as I’m concerned… Our case connects to the politics. If the prime minister sits with [Ra’am party leader Mansour] Abbas, it’s an assassination of Israel. While I bury my son, the hero, Hamas are getting a loan with comfortable terms. A shame for the country,” Nitza Shmueli said earlier this month.

Border Police officer Barel Shmueli, who was critically wounded in a shooting on the Gaza border, on August 21, 2021. He died of his injuries on August 30. (Border Police)

On August 21, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip held a large demonstration along the Gaza border, near the defunct Karni Crossing. At one point during the demonstration, dozens of rioters rushed the border barrier, up to a hole in the concrete wall that was being used by Israeli snipers as a firing position. One man, armed with a gun, approached this hole in the wall, stuck his pistol through it and fired three times. One of these shots struck Shmueli in the head, critically wounding him. He died of his injury on August 30.

Shmueli’s father has suggested Bennett should resign over the incident, his mother has said that she does not trust the government or the army. The family has also rejected the Israel Defense Forces’ investigation, demanding an independent inquiry. The military does not, as a rule, outsource investigations into single fatalities in combat.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi pays a condolence call on September 5, 2021, to the home of Barel Hadaria Shmueli, a Border Police officer who was shot dead by a Gaza gunman at the border last month (Via Facebook: צועדים בדרך בראל)

The IDF has denied that the open-fire regulations were to blame — noting that Shmueli himself fired at the rioters when they rushed the border — and said that the way troops were deployed was at fault.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi on September 5 paid a condolence call on the bereaved family. A day earlier, Kohavi issued a highly unusual letter decrying criticism of the IDF and its commanders over Shmueli’s death.

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