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US Ambassador Friedman, ‘Haaretz’ spar on Twitter over Har Bracha attack

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David Friedman

David Friedman testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination to be U.S. ambassador to Israel, on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, February 16, 2017.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman slammed the left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz Friday morning for publishing an opinion piece critical of him, and the newspaper’s publisher swung back.

The piece, authored by Haaretz correspondent Gideon Levy, responded to a tweet from Friedman earlier this week about a stabbing in Har Bracha, in which he expressed regret that an ambulance he donated to the settlement had to be used in response to a terror attack instead of a happier occasion, such as delivering a baby.

Levy referred to the Samaria settlement as a “mountain of curses” and accused the “occupation-friendly ambassador” of “deception.”

Friedman didn’t take kindly to the column.

“What has become of [email protected] ? Four young children are sitting shiva for their murdered father and this publication calls their community a “mountain of curses.” Have they no decency?” he tweeted.

Haaretz Publisher Amos Schoken responded to Friedman’s tweet, backing his correspondent.

“Mr. Ambassador Gideon Levy is right. As long as the policy of Israel that your Government and yourself support is obstructing peace process, practical annexation of the territories, perpetuating apartheid, fighting terror but willing to pay its price, there will be more Shivas,” he wrote.

Levy’s column also disparaged Friedman for choosing to donate to a Jewish settlement in the West Bank as opposed to Gaza or Balata, a Palestinian refugee camp adjacent to Nablus.

“With Friedman’s ambulance or without it, Har Bracha (literally, ‘Mountain of Blessing’) is a mountain of curses,” he wrote. “It was a settlement established, like all the others, to poke a stick in the Palestinian eye and drive a stake into any chance of an agreement.”

The stabbing attack occurred on Monday afternoon when 29-year-old Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal, a father of four, was on his way to his nephew’s brit mila. Abed al-Karim Adel Asi, the Israeli-Arab terrorist, pulled out a knife, ran toward Ben-Gal, and stabbed him in the chest. Beilinson Hospital at the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikvah declared him dead shortly after his arrival there.

Surveillance footage that captured the actual moment of the attack was circulated on social media and by news agencies.

“The heart breaks,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman tweeted. “It’s only a matter of time before security forces will close accounts with the murderer.”

CCTV Footage of the stabbing attack outside Ariel

Friedman is widely seen as a pro-Israel hardliner. He has engaged in public spats with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in recent days, as the United States has been grappling with the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December of last year.

Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.

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