Efrat Weiss; Ahiya Raved
Settlers Slam Government over Shooting Attack
Yesha Council heads, MKs say terror attack result of roadblocks’ removal, construction freeze. ‘The Arabs are interpreting government’s decision as green light to harm settlers,’ says MK Arieli
The shooting attack Thursday in which Meir Avshalom Hai, a 45-year-old resident of West Bank settlement of Shavei Shomron, was killed, enraged many settlers and right-wing activists, who blamed the government for the tragic event.
“Every time we try to appease the Palestinians, whether with removing roadblocks or with freezing the construction in the settlements, they interpret it as a weakness on Israel’s part , and only increase terrorist activities,” said MK Nissim Zeev (Shas) while visiting the scene of the shooting.
MK Zeev noted that there used to be two roadblocks on the road where the shooting took place, and claimed that if the roadblocks had not been removed, the attack could have been prevented.
“Even if a terrorist gets through, it would have been hard for him to escape due to the roadblocks,” he said.
MK Uri Arieli (National Union) seconded MK Zeevi, and urged the prime minister to cancel the construction freeze: “The Arabs are interpreting the government’s decision as a green light to harm settlers.”
The scene of the terror attack (Photo: Ido Erez)
Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Masika also criticized the government for not doing enough to ensure the safety of the settlers in the West Bank.
“Following a long period of calm, and despite our warnings, they opened the main checkpoint between Shavei Shomron and the West Bank city of Tulkarem. The government of Israel prefers to upkeep the lifestyle of Palestinian rather than that of its own citizens,” said Masika
Kedumim Regional Council head Hananel Durani added that “this murderous attack is the direct result of the government’s weakness, the construction freeze and the turning of defense resources against the Jewish people.”
Among the government critics were also terror victim organizations, which have been battling against the prime minister’s intention to release hundreds of terrorists as part of the prisoner exchange deal that will see the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.
“The attack today was a promo to the murders that will take place if a thousand terrorists are released,” said representatives of Three Fathers organization, which represents bereaved parents whose children were killed in terror attacks.
The organization called on the heads of Yesha Councils to join their struggle against the release of terrorists as part of the Shalit deal.
Almagor Terror Victims Association also published a statement, in which it urged the PM to seize negotiations with Hamas, and look for “creative solutions” for the release of Gilad Shalit, which do not involve the release of murderers.
“Send all those who call for the release of terrorists to visit the house of the victims, so that they can feel for themselves, if only for an hour, what these families are going through,” read the statement, “there they can start convincing the mourners to agree to the release of the terrorists who murdered their loved ones.”
Thursday night saw many friends and family members arrived at Hai’s home in Shavei Shomron.
Sarah Eliash, a resident of Kedumim settlement, knew the family well. “Meir Avshalom Hai’s wife, Elisheva, is currently on maternity leave with a 2-month-old baby,” Eliash told Ynet.
Shavei Shomron spokeswoman, Menora Chazani, told Ynet the Hai was the childrens’ Rabbi, and used to teach them Talmud and Torah in kindergarten.
“He would buy the children sweets and surprises, and teach them to sing. The kids admired him, and still do,” Chazani said.
Earlier, the IDF tried to block MK Michael Ben Ari from arriving at the scene of the attack. Ben Ari stopped his car and approached the area by foot, while using his immunity. “Those who speak of easing the restrictions on Palestinians’ movement needs to realize MKs also have the freedom of movement,” he said.