A group of hardcore supporters of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu disrupted the funeral of a Border Police officer who died Monday, nine days after being shot by a Palestinian during clashes on the Gaza border.
During 21-year-old Barel Hadaria Shmueli’s funeral in Tel Aviv Monday evening, high-profile Likud activist Itzik Zarka repeatedly called for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s name to be “erased,” calling him a “zero” and screaming “you killed the boy, Bennett.” Earlier in the day, Zarka was removed from the High Court of Justice after shouting at one of the justices.
Rami Ben Yehuda, another prominent Likud activist, tried to get the crowed chanting “death to the terrorists.”
In a short video posted on social media, one woman said she hoped someone would shoot the prime minister. “Aim that at Bennett, do us a favor,” she said as soldiers fired a rifle volley next to the grave.
Several of Shmueli’s friends screamed back, telling the demonstrators that the funeral was not the place for political protest, even as they declared that Bennett was leading a "terrorist government."
Shmueli was shot and critically wounded on August 21 during violent clashes at the Gaza border. He was hit through a slit in the border fence and was taken by helicopter to Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva, where he underwent emergency surgery before being moved to intensive care, where he was put on a ventilator.
Footage of the incident shows a group of Palestinians approaching the border fence and throwing rocks at the officer, with one of them shooting through the slit.
- Israeli soldier critically shot at Gaza border succumbs to wounds
- After officer's death at Gaza border, public rage is directed at the Israeli army – and Bennett
- The Bennett phone call that should not have happened
Shmueli is survived by his parents, two sisters and a brother. He was a resident of Be’er Ya’akov in central Israel.
Following Monday evening’s incident, anti-Netanyahu activist and attorney Gonen Ben Itzhak filed a police complaint alleging that Ben Yehuda and Zarka, as well as activist Orly Lev, all engaged in incitement and sedition, journalist Ben Caspit tweeted Wednesday.
Ben Itzhak accused Ben Yehuda of calling on soldiers to disobey orders during the funeral, Caspit tweeted, quoting Ben Itzhak as saying that “the suspects are distributing incitement propaganda on social networks portraying Bennett as a murderer, amid calls to take up arms and shoot terrorists and traitors.” These efforts were allegedly reminiscent of the rhetoric before the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.
Lev has already been investigated on suspicion of threatening Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and was an organizer of a protest last year outside the home of Capt. Tom Farkash, who was killed in a helicopter crash during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
The protesters were angry that the Farkash family, who are neighbors of Netanyahu in Caesarea on the coast, had hosted anti-Netanyahu activists on their roof.
Lev, a firebrand Likud activist, called out during the protest: “The fact that you lost a son doesn’t give you the right.” The statement was roundly condemned by most political parties, including Netanyahu’s Likud.
In a tweet Wednesday, former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who was with Likud for around eight years, harshly criticized the protesters.
“They have faces, they have names, they have no fear and they have no boundaries. Even when on vacation, Bibi-ism poisons everything good,” Ya’alon wrote, referring to Netanyahu’s current holiday in Hawaii, where he reportedly met with a key witness for the prosecution in his corruption trial.
“His emissaries … are increasingly daring, inciting wild incitement against the prime minister, the rule of law and IDF commanders," Ya'alon added. "They have to be stopped before a catastrophe occurs."