Police minister under fire again for making light of flub at terror victim’s funeral

After apologizing for accidentally vowing to bring slain terrorist to justice, Barlev seems to joke about mistake in tweet with winking face emoji, then reportedly fires spokesman

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Old City, March 4, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Public Security Minister Omer Barlev at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Old City, March 4, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev faced fresh criticism on Thursday after evidently making light of his widely-maligned error at a funeral for a victim of this week’s terror attack in Beersheba.

Barlev, who oversees the police, sparked anger Wednesday when he vowed at the funeral of 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.

The screw-up poured salt in the wounds of Beersheba locals who were already complaining that they felt abandoned by police. Barlev later said he had been asked to talk at the last moment and misspoke, having intended to say any accomplices would be brought to justice.

Barlev, however, was apparently unwilling to let the matter end there and seemed to poke fun at himself over the faux pas in an unrelated tweet about a large number of illegal guns that had been seized on Lebanon’s border.

“We won’t rest until we’ve put the smugglers in jail and made them face justice,” he wrote, paraphrasing his Wednesday words — followed by a winking face emoji.

Intense criticism on Twitter and by media commentators for the apparently insensitive joke led Barlev to delete the post and replace it with one that leaves out the quip. He did not offer an explanation or apology.

But on Friday, Hebrew media reported that Barlev fired his spokesman Natan Dublin following his remarks at the funeral and the tweet.

The minister also again addressed his verbal slip-up at the funeral.

“They thrust a microphone upon me. I started improvising,” he was quoted as saying.

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev attends the funeral of 49-year-old Doris Yahbas, who was killed in a terror attack in Beersheba, at a cemetery in Moshav Gilat, on March 23, 2022. (Flash90)

Police have faced criticism over their response time to Tuesday’s attack in Beersheba. Israel Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai, who was heckled by protesters when he arrived at the scene of the attack in the southern city, has rejected the criticism.

Police also took flack from some corners for taking the guns of the two citizens who shot the attacker for ballistic tests, which is standard investigative procedure. The weapons were later returned to their owners.

One of the civilian shooters, whose name has not been publicized, had fought with police and refused to leave a police station, saying he feared traveling to his West Bank home without his gun.

Four people were killed and two others injured Tuesday by the knifeman, an Arab Israeli, in the attack.

The victims were identified as Doris Yahbas, 49, a mother of three; Laura Yitzhak, 43, also a mother of three; Rabbi Moshe Kravitzky, 48, a father of four; and Menahem Yehezkel, 67, a brother to four.

The four victims of a terror attack in Beersheba on March 22, 2022: Laura Yitzhak, top left; Rabbi Moshe Kravitzky, top right; Doris Yahbas, bottom left; Menahem Yehezkel, bottom right. (Social media, courtesy)

The terrorist has been identified as 34-year-old Mohammad Ghaleb Abu al-Qi’an, from the Bedouin town of Hura in the Negev. Abu al-Qi’an, who died of his wounds at the scene, had served four years in prison for plotting to join the fundamentalist Islamic State terror group in Syria. He was released in 2019. Police said he likely acted alone in Tuesday’s attack.

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