Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett Hezki Baruch

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addressed the deaths of Border Policeman Noam Raz and IDF officer Lieutenant Colonel Mahmoud Kheir El-Din, who were killed in counter-terrorism operations.

"Over the weekend we lost one of our best people, Israel National Counter-Terrorism (INCT) Sergeant Major Noam Raz, may his memory be for a blessing, who was wounded in an initiated operation against terrorists in the Jenin area. Noam served in the INCT for 23 years during which he participated in many operations to defend the security of the citizens of Israel," Bennett said,

"Noam loved Israel and was a hero of Israel. Only a few weeks ago, Noam saved the life of a senior colleague who had been severely wounded in a clash with terrorists in the Tul Karem area.

"Noam, a resident of the community of Kida, leaves behind him Efrat and six children, as well as a clear legacy – to love our country, to contribute to the state, and to fight our enemies with uncompromising determination.

"On behalf of the Government of Israel and the entire nation, I would like to send condolences to his family, may his memory be for a blessing.

"This morning, the name of another hero was released for publication – Lt.-Col. Mahmoud Kheir el-Din, who fell in battle in a special operation in Khan Yunis three-and-a-half years ago. Mahmoud, a resident of the Druze village of Hurfeish, served in the Paratroop Brigade Reconnaissance Unit for years and rose through the ranks in the IDF special operations division. Mahmoud was posthumously awarded the Chief-of-Staff's commendation.

"As a representative of the government, I eulogized him at his funeral. Two weeks ago, I met his widow, the wonderful Nahed and his two beautiful boys. I am pleased that the people of Israel, this morning, received the privilege of openly knowing his name and his image as a hero of Israel, Lt.-Col. Mahmoud Kheir el-Din. The covenant of blood, and mainly the covenant of life, with our Druze brothers is stronger than ever. May his memory be for a blessing.

"Both Mahmoud and Noam dedicated their lives to defending the citizens of Israel. This is the place to recall that they fell in initiated operations designed to counter murderous and bloodthirsty Palestinian terrorism.

"Therefore, the world cannot become confused or – Heaven forbid – that one of us should err.

"There is good and bad in this story:

"It is Palestinian terrorists who have murdered 19 of our sons and daughters with inconceivable brutality – with axes, knives and live fire.

"Twenty years ago as well, our soldiers fought heroically against terrorists in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield. Then, as now, we dealt with libels against our soldiers, and I back the IDF soldiers who fought in Jenin then against the slander that will be discussed tomorrow, and today's soldiers against similar libels. Our forces will continue to take determined action against terrorism.

"Here I say this clearly: The Government of Israel is placing no restrictions on the fight against terrorism, and we will not slacken, even in the face of the mendacious propaganda that is being leveled at Israel.

"The Security Cabinet will convene later today for a briefing on the significant IDF 'Chariots of Fire' exercise, and we will continue with all of the operations that are necessary to provide security for the citizens of Israel.

"Precisely at this time, it is important to emphasize another point and with this I will close.

"Friends, after years of neglect, Israel has returned to being managed. In the past year, the Government of Israel has followed through and produced results. We have reduced the number of shooting incidents in the Arab sector by approximately 50%. We have brought the Israeli economy to 8.2% growth. We have reduced unemployment to 2.9% by returning many unemployed to work. You remember, we inherited a situation in which there was considerable unemployment and we returned people to work. We restored their basic respect. We broke a record in marketing residential units in order to reduce the vast shortage that opened up in recent years. The communities in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip have experienced the quietest period in years. This must be recalled amidst all of the noise, and the list is still growing. Israel has gone back to work.

"We cannot spiral back to endless elections and paralysis. The last year has proven has proven that it is possible to work together, manage Israel in a serious manner and achieve good results.

"Therefore, we are tightening the ranks in order to continue growth and maintain the government.

"We intend for the government to pass a budget next month, in June. We are starting intensive work on this issue. I expect, and am certain, that all government ministers will join in the effort," Bennett concluded.

We intend for the government to pass a budget next month, in June. We are starting intensive work on this issue. I expect, and am certain, that all government ministers will join in the effort."