Shin Bet Suspected Glick's Shooter Was Involved in Terrorist Activity in August

Despite suspicion, Shin Bet did nothing to stop Muataz Hijazi's employment at the Begin Center.

Eyal Warshavsky

The man suspected of shooting right-wing activist Yehuda Glick on Wednesday has been under suspected of involvement in terrorist activities by the Shin Bet security service since August, but was nevertheless allowed to continue working at Jerusalem’s Menachem Begin Heritage Center.

Glick, an activist who advocates for Jews to be allowed to visit and pray on the Temple Mount, was shot on his way home from the Begin Center after speaking at a conference on the subject that was held there Wednesday night.

Moreover, despite the police’s claim that Glick never filed a complaint about threats on his life, sources involved in the investigation said Thursday that over the last two years, Glick actually complained to the police twice about such threats.

Police sources said that responsibility for dealing with intelligence regarding Temple Mount activists lay with the Shin Bet. Therefore, they said, his complaints might have been passed on to the Shin Bet immediately, without the police conducting any investigation themselves. That would explain why police had no information about the complaints.

Moreover, they said, the police didn’t even know about Wednesday’s conference at the Begin Center.

By law, the Shin Bet is forbidden to share routine intelligence gathered from its sources with the police; it can do so only if it fears an imminent attack.

Senior security officials said on Thursday that the fact that Glick’s suspected shooter, Muataz Hijazi, was employed at the Begin Center’s restaurant despite a history of terrorist activity that included more than a decade in jail was a security lapse that mandates investigation. The restaurant is frequently patronized by senior politicians and other public figures.

Hijazi, 30, from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Tor, was arrested in 2000, shortly after the second intifada began. He was charged with membership in a terrorist organization, Islamic Jihad, and violent rioting. He was initially sentenced to six years in jail, but while in prison, he assaulted a warden, leading to another trial and an additional five-year sentence.

After his release, he was interviewed by a Palestinian television station and said, “I’ll remain a thorn in the Zionist occupation’s throat.”

Security sources said that Hijazi had been considered a person of interest by the Shin Bet ever since his release from jail, but particularly after a soldier was shot and seriously injured by someone on a motorcycle on Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus in August. Hijazi’s name came up as a possible suspect in that attack, and since then, the Shin Bet has considered him a potential terrorist.

“Today, people convicted of sex crimes can’t work in places where there are children, so there’s no reason why someone convicted of nationalist crimes should be able to work in place where there are politicians,” one security source said, using the standard Israeli euphemism for terror attacks.

A similar lapse occurred in the case of Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi, the man who perpetrated a terror attack last week in which he drove his car into a crowd of people waiting at a light rail station in Jerusalem, killing a woman and a 3-month-old baby and wounding several other people. Shaludi had been arrested for terror-related offenses in the past and found mentally unfit to stand trial, and someone found unfit to stand trial is supposed to have his driver’s license revoked. Instead, Shaludi was simply released, and the police had no information about him.

Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino, commenting on both Hijazi’s death in a shootout with police earlier on Thursday and his employment at the Begin Center, saying “We’ll examine ourselves throughout all these events, including the terrorist killed this morning as he was being arrested. We’ll also look into his employment. There are many things that are now under examination, and the minute we finish this [examination], we’ll know how to draw the appropriate conclusions.”

MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud), who also participated in Wednesday’s conference at the Begin Center, told the media that Glick had filed five complaints with the police about death threats, but the police did nothing to protect him. Glick’s father, Shimon, also said his son regularly received death threats.

“They threatened to kill him more than once and more than twice,” Shimon Glick said. “He wasn’t shy about saying what he thought, though he always spoke with moderation. My wife and I feared for his life, but nothing was done to protect him.”

Moreover, he said, Glick’s picture was published in the past on the Palestine news site Al-Quds with a red bull’s-eye around his face. The news site dubbed him a “settler leader.”