Two years ago Minister of Culture and Sport Limor Livnat (Likud Beytenu) lost her nephew, Ben-Yosef Livnat, to a terrorist shooting committed by a Palestinian Authority policeman.
Now, two months after the killers were apprehended, she has come forth with harsh criticism of Major-General Nitzan Alon, the IDF commander for the Central District.
Alon insisted on calling Ben-Yosef’s death part of a “shooting incident,” she recalled. “We told him that it wasn’t a ‘shooting incident,’ it was murder. A ‘shooting incident’ is when both sides shoot at each other, and in this case there was nothing of the kind,” she said.
What happened, she said, was that “Ben-Yosef and another nephew of mine entered Joseph’s Tomb to pray, and when they came out, Palestinian police started shooting like crazy. Ben-Yosef was hit in the neck and died instantly.”
“The gunfire was meant to murder them, but Nitzan Alon wouldn’t agree to any definition other than ‘shooting incident,’” she continued. Alon’s insistence meant that Ben-Yosef’s widow and four young children were not eligible for the benefits given to families that have lost loved ones to terrorism, she noted.
Ben-Yosef Livnat was finally recognized as a victim of terrorism several weeks after the shooting. “In order to get Ben Yosef recognized as a victim of terrorism we had to fight like crazy,” Livnat revealed.
“Now that what happened has been revealed, and the shooter has been charged with murder, I’ve been thinking to myself that Alon’s behavior was simply shameful,” she declared.
Yoram Cohen, head of the Shin Bet, was the one who called to tell her that the killers had been caught, she said. “After I called my brother to tell him that the murderer had been caught, my sister-in-law said that my nephew who survived, who had said what had happened at the time, began running around the house saying, ‘You see? I wasn’t lying, I wasn’t lying.”
The Livnat family is not alone in having needed to fight to get their loved one recognized as a victim of terrorism. The family of Asher and Yonatan Palmer similarly had to challenge senior IDF commanders who said that their loved ones had died in a car crash, while in another case, Christian victims of a Jewish terrorist went unrecognized while Muslim victims received compensation. Victims of "terrorist rape" continue to fight to be recognized as terror victims.
A senior IDF source responded to Livnat’s harsh criticism by defending Alon’s record. “The steps Major-General Nitzan Alon took in connection to this incident, both in his position then as the commander for the Judea and Samaria district and in his current position as commander for the Central District, prove that he treated this incident with the appropriate gravity,” he argued.
“When the incident was discovered IDF forces were sent to gather evidence from the scene, intelligence was gathered, and the suspects were arrested and sentenced by the Palestinian security forces,” he continued. “When they were released from Palestinian prison, Major-General Alon ordered that they be arrested and brought to trial in Israel.”