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Mayor of Kafr Qasim defends attendance at terrorist suspect's funeral

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The mayor of Kafr Qasim on Sunday defended his participation in the late-night funeral of a local man who police said was shot dead during a terrorist attack, telling media he attended the burial to ensure the event proceeded peacefully.

Mayor Adel Badir also continued to question whether the incident was in fact a terrorist attack, saying further investigations were needed to determine what had happened.

Badir was criticized for his appearance the previous night in the funeral procession of Naim Badir, whose body was handed over to his family by Israel in return for a promise to hold a small, quiet funeral attended by no more than 50 people.

Naim Badir was shot dead by police on Friday in what the force said was an attack involving an attempted shooting and then ramming of police officers in the Arab city, east of Tel Aviv.

There was not a word of a family connection between the mayor and the terrorist suspect.

Shas party leader Aryeh Deri, who is expected to become interior minister in the emerging government, criticized the mayor for showing up at the funeral.

“Seeing is not believing!” Deri wrote on Twitter. “Instead of condemning the terrorist attack perpetrated in his city and inquiring about the well-being of the injured, a mayor… the city. A disgrace.”

Badir told public broadcaster Kan that he attended the funeral after coordinating with police and security officials, with the intention of maintaining public order. He insisted he wasn’t there to show support for the alleged act of terror.

Badir said he trusted the police to find out what motivated Naim Badir and suggested possible explanations such as the suspect’s difficult childhood or recent personal problems.

🇧🇷[The attack] may have been carried out for criminal, mental or security reasons [terror] reasons,” he said.

The funeral of suspected terrorist Naim Badir in Kafr Qasim on December 25, 2022. (Screenshot: Twitter; used in accordance with Section 27a of the Copyright Act)

“This is a very serious incident, regardless of the background, but the man’s motive has yet to be established,” Badir told Channel 12.

“Naim has recently been through a mental and financial crisis and it’s possible he felt threatened or even took medication – it could be anything,” he said. “His family also confirms that for the past two weeks he has been in poor mental and financial condition” and may have been involved in a dispute with others.

Badir’s family initially vehemently denied that the incident was an attack, accusing the police of “murdering our son in cold blood”.

However, speaking to Kan, Badir said the family now condemns what happened. He also said the family had no prior ties to terrorist elements.

Police released extensive video and audio footage from the scene to support their claim that the incident was a terrorist attack.

The police footage begins with CCTV footage of the entrance to Badir’s house, with audio of the phone call between the assailant and the approaching police officer.

After calling the police to report a seemingly non-existent domestic violence incident, Badir can be heard directing the officer to a certain location outside the building’s door. The call’s audio cuts out, and Badir is seen exiting the building, pointing a makeshift submachine gun at the officer and attempting to open fire at point-blank range.

With the firearm apparently jammed, Badir is seen retreating back into the building.

The video then cuts to the officer’s helmet-mounted camera as he takes cover, updates a police control center on the incident, and calls for backup.

During that time, according to the police, the attacker threw Molotov cocktails at a police car. Police said they later found several more firebombs on the roof of the building Badir had called police to.

In the footage, a car’s engine can be heard as Badir speeds in a car towards the reversing officers and crashes into another vehicle next to the police, injuring three officers, before being shot dead.

A knife was later found in the car.

The Ynet news website reported that even after viewing the footage, Badir’s family denied the incident was a premeditated attack and said officers should have shot him in the legs rather than killing him.

An improvised ‘Carlo’ submachine gun used by Naim Badir during an attack on police officers in Kafr Qasim, early December 23, 2022. (Israeli Police)

Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai said on Friday morning that “police officers reacted quickly and prevented a larger planned attack against police forces”.

Central District Commander Avi Bitton said after an assessment with several security officials, including the Shin Bet security service, “it appears to have been a terrorist attack planned days earlier”.

Naim Badir (Courtesy)

A family statement insisted that “our son did not plan any attacks. It is a fallacious claim by the police to hide their failures in tackling crime in Arab society.”

The incident took place amidst high tensions and frequent clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians, with most of the violence taking place in the West Bank. It also comes amid a wave of violent crime in Israel’s Arab community.

Molotov cocktails found on the roof of a building where an attack on police officers took place in Kafr Qasim, early December 23, 2022. (Israeli Police)

Earlier this month, a Palestinian hit a motorist in Tel Aviv. Police prosecutors said on Monday they planned to file terrorism charges against the suspect after an investigation found the motive for the incident to be nationalistic.

Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.

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