After Criticism, Liberman Cancels Meeting With Families of Terror Murder Victims

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israel Gaza
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Wednesday canceled a meeting with the families of Ziv Hajabi, Hy”d, and Kim Levengard Yechezkel, Hy”d, the victims of murder in the terror attack in the Barkan industrial zone near Ariel several weeks ago. The cancellation comes after Hadashot News on Tuesday broadcast a recording of a conversation between Rafi Levengrod, father of Kim, and a Defense Ministry official, regarding the partial demolition of the home of Ashraf Nalaweh, the terrorist who killed the two Israelis and who is still at large.

Informing the families of the cancellation, Liberman wrote that he had “wholeheartedly planned to meet with you and update you on the search for the killer of your loved ones. I invited senior Shin Bet and IDF officials to the meeting to provide you with an in-depth picture of our efforts. Unfortunately, you recorded the conversation with an IDF officer who called you at my instructions and released the conversation to the media. Under these circumstances, we cannot have an open and honest dialogue. As a result, the meeting scheduled for Wednesday will not take place.”

The leaked conversation, broadcast on Hadashot News Tuesday, portrayed Levengrod as extremely disappointed over an order signed Tuesday by the head of the IDF Central Command, Nadav Padan, for the partial demolition of Nalaweh’s home. The order specifies destroying and sealing the first floor of the family home in the village of Shweka, near Tul Karem. It will take effect in several weeks.

In the broadcast conversation, Levengrod is heard discussing the demolition order with the Defense Ministry official. When he heard that just the first floor of the home would be sealed and demolished, Levengrod told the official, “So, in other words, you are doing nothing. They destroyed my family; why are we having consideration for them? Did he think about my family when he murdered my daughter? About her son who is now an orphan, who will never know his mother? As far as I am concerned, if the issue is to demolish a small corner of the house, don’t bother.” When the official told Levengrod that “the minister is limited in what he can do,” the latter replied that “he was elected to fulfill an agenda, and if he cannot, let him leave the job for someone who can.”

The murders of Hajabi and Levengard-Yechezkel took place on October 7, and despite a long and intensive manhunt, Nalaweh remains at large. Generally, demolition orders are issued only after the terrorist has been caught and either confesses or is convicted of a crime, in order to avoid legal action and the involvement of the High Court by the families. In this case, however, there is enough evidence to tie Nalaweh to the crime even if he has still not been captured.

Commenting on the demolition order, Jewish Home MK Moti Yogev said that it was “too little, too late. It’s a partial demolition order coming a month after these vicious and cruel murders. An order like this is laughable to the terrorists, and it will not cause them to fear committing future attacks. It’s not the terrorists who are filled with dread of the IDF – it’s us, who are filled with fear of the High Court,” he added.