'You're as guilty as the terrorist' - fallen commando's son to Bennett

This is the prime minister's first home visit to a bereaved family during the current wave of terrorism.

 Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Efraim Regional Brigade, May 17, 2022.  (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Efraim Regional Brigade, May 17, 2022.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

The oldest son of Counterterrorism Unit Border Police officer Sgt.-Maj Noam Raz, who was killed during an IDF raid in Jenin last Friday, accused Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of causing his father’s death, during a condolence call the premier made to the family home.

“I blame you the way I blame the terrorist” who killed him, Be’eri Raz angrily told Bennett, according to media reports.

It was the first such condolence call Bennett has made since taking office last year. During that time there have been 23 fatalities from terrorist attacks, 21 of which were Palestinian- or ISIS-related, and two military incidents.

His visit to the Raz family, who live in the West Bank outpost of Kida in the Binyamin region, marks only his second visit to Judea and Samaria during his tenure as prime minister. The first occurred on Tuesday, when he participated in an event marking the 45th anniversary of the Elkana settlement.

Bennett was heckled during both visits by right-wing activists who feel betrayed that he campaigned as a right-wing politician but then formed a coalition that includes left-wing and Arab politicians.

They are also upset that Bennett would visit an outpost, an unusual move for a politician given its unauthorized status, when his government has refused to allow such fledgling settler communities to be hooked up to the electricity and water grids.

Raz’s family did not mince words when they sat with Bennett inside their home.

“Don’t make us any promises,” Be’eri said. “Based on past experience, nothing is ever fulfilled anyway. Enough with trying to boggle our minds.”

The son continued, “I don’t know how you look at yourself in the mirror. We want to see someone we believe in. You do not deserve to be in the house my father lived in. I hope you are listening and not just nodding.”

Raz’s widow, Efrat, a mother of six, told Bennett, “There is still time for you to change. Every day you sit in your seat is a day that you can change. Unless you are faithful to the principles of those who chose you, you will no longer be here. Look yourself in the eyes, be faithful to the truth.”

Bennett later tweeted that it was fully within the rights of the family of a slain “Israeli hero” to tell him whatever was in their hearts.

“My role is just to hear and listen” to them, Bennett wrote.

The Raz family are “pioneers” who are living a life of “devotion and Zionism” in the community of Kida, Bennett continued. “They lost Noam, a rare personality who was both humble and courageous.”

Activists who held small rallies outside Kida and near the Raz home greeted Bennett with a sign that read: “Government of blood. Now you arrive?”, and chanted: “Bennett resign, we don’t want you.”

Yoel Shiloh, who heads the right-wing activist group The Red Line, accused Bennett of coming to Kida as part of a failed reelection bid.

“Even Bennett understands he is at the end of his political life,” Shiloh said. “He should turn in his keys now before he causes further damage to the State of Israel.”

The Young Settlements Forum called on Bennett to authorize Kida and the other outposts at the next government meeting.

“The settlements are not a gimmick,” they said.

Opposition leader and Likud party head Benjamin Netanyahu also paid a condolence call to the Raz family on Wednesday morning.

The Kida outpost was built in 2003 after Israel promised the US that it would halt such construction.

The Young Settlements Forum is the latest grassroots initiative to authorize the outposts en masse. During his 12 years in office, Netanyahu did not support most of those initiatives.

A security cabinet decision to authorize many of the outposts was never carried out.

Netanyahu did begin the process of legalizing a small number of the more than 100 unauthorized settler communities as new neighborhoods of existing settlements. Bennett has continued that practice.

The Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria last week authorized the Mitzpe Dani outpost as a new neighborhood of the Ma’aleh Michmas settlement.

Jerusalem Post Staff and Maariv contributed to this report.