Beit Shemesh slammed for promoting rally for IDF soldier accused of murder

A digital flyer for the protest was posted on the municipality’s website for several hours overnight Sunday, before it was taken down.

IDF soldier shoots subdued Palestinian (photo credit: screenshot)
IDF soldier shoots subdued Palestinian
(photo credit: screenshot)
The Beit Shemesh Municipality came under fire on Monday for promoting a demonstration in favor of the IDF soldier accused of murdering a subdued Palestinian attacker in Hebron on Thursday, and for publishing the soldier’s name and photo, which are both currently under a gag order.
A digital flyer for the protest was posted on the municipality’s website for several hours overnight Sunday, before it was taken down.
Beit Shemesh Municipality spokesman Mati Rozensweig said that the municipality did not fund or support the protest, only that “we published it from about midnight to 8 a.m., and once we saw there was a problem with it we took it down.”
He added that the municipality has not taken a stance regarding the rally, which was held at 6 p.m. at the BIG Junction on Highway 38 in Beit Shemesh, and attended by dozens of residents of the city. Rozensweig said the rally was organized in part by City Council member and deputy mayor Meir Bellaish, who asked that the flyer be posted on the municipality’s website.
Part of the controversy around the post revolved around the fact that it included a clear photo of the soldier and his name, both of which are currently banned from publication in Israel. Notwithstanding the court gag order, both the soldier’s name and photo have circulated widely since Thursday on social media.
Beit Shemesh resident and former Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman said in a statement on Monday that “I condemn the Bet Shemesh municipality for publishing the name of the soldier from the Hebron story, and for entering into the political storm by taking sides in a complex issue which is under investigation by the IDF. The job of the city is to collect our garbage on time, and to find a way to lower our municipal taxes and not to get involved with this story.”
MK Isawi Frej (Meretz) and Meretz Party general-secretary Mossi Raz sent a letter on Monday to Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit calling on him to ban demonstrations in support of the soldier, adding that the publishing of the flyer for the Beit Shemesh rally on the city’s website “gives legitimacy and support to the actions of the soldier.”
Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin (Zionist Union) said “the decision by the Beit Shemesh Municipality to take an active part in a campaign against the IDF, its commanders and ethical and moral code is a decision that we cannot allow.”
The soldier was arrested in Hebron on Thursday after he fatally shot a subdued Palestinian attacker who along with an accomplice had attacked and lightly wounded a soldier with knives. In the video shot by a member of the Israeli NGO B’tselem, the Palestinian attacker can be seen lying on the ground for an extended period of time before the soldier – who arrived after the attack – trained his rifle and fired a single round into his head.
The video quickly went viral.
Following the soldier’s arrest, there has been a wellspring of support for him and protests across the country, including outside the Jaffa Military Court. A Facebook page has been opened in support of the soldier, which promotes the use of the hashtag “ReleaseThe- Boy.”
Also Monday, the Ramle Municipality posted an invitation on its website for a rally the following evening at the city’s cultural center in solidarity with IDF soldiers. The invitation did not mention the soldier or the incident in Hebron.