MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) asserted on Monday that the shooting at a branch of Bank Hapoalim in Be’er Sheva, in which a disgruntled customer killed four people, was a direct result of the state budget which includes tax increases and other cuts.
Zandberg was speaking at the Knesset as it voted to approve a motion determining that the state budget for the years 2013-2014 will be a bi-annual budget, as has been the practice over the past several years.
“An incident of economic terrorism took place in Be’er Sheva today,” said Zandberg. “A person whose life threw him into despair. This is not a decree of fate, this is the result of a policy. There are several hundred people in the State of Israel who commit suicide due to economic distress.”
Her remarks were slammed by Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) who said, “It is too bad that the opposition stoops so low and cynically takes advantage of the tragedy in Be’er Sheva.”
“This is a miserable statement and you would be good to apologize,” Levy told Zandberg.
Police said that the shooting at the bank was committed by a 40-year-old former IDF officer who owed the bank money. Police said that the shooter, who was identified on Monday evening as Itamar Alon, had attempted to get the debt quashed, but failed.
The bank had closed his line of credit and blocked usage of his credit card, police said. The former officer had attempted to appeal to bank officials to allow him to use the card, but to no avail. At that point, police said, Alon left the bank and apparently went home, returning with a weapon, and opening fire in all directions.
After the shootings, Alon took a female customer of the bank hostage, but released her. At that point, police said, he killed himself.
At Monday evening’s Knesset discussion, in which the bi-annual budget was approved, Finance Committee chairman MK Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) said, “The method of a bi-annual has not proved itself in Israel, despite the logic behind it. In practice, since we have no choice, we are requesting to approve a motion that the upcoming budget, for the last time, will be a bi-annual budget, although in practice this budget is for a year and a half.”
The approval of the budget comes a week after the Cabinet approved the budget, which includes measures such as an increase of 1.5 percentage points in personal income tax, one point in corporate tax and a one-point rise in VAT, together with a cut in family allowances. The budget has been criticized by both the opposition as well as Israeli citizens, who have been protesting against it.
Monday’s approval of the motion sets the stage for the budget to be brought for a vote in the Knesset.