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January 11, 2022 1:49 pm

Fallen Israeli Soldier’s Sister Denounces Wikipedia Editors for Erasing Brother’s Page

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Border Police officer Barel Hadaria Shmueli, shot on the Gaza border, who died on August 30, 2021. Photo: Israel Border Police

Controversy erupted after editors at the Hebrew-language Wikipedia site on Tuesday deleted a page on an Israeli border policeman who was killed in August 2021 by a Palestinian sniper on the Gaza border, with the fallen soldier’s sister saying the decision compounded the family’s grief.

Staff Sergeant Barel Hadaria Shmueli was critically injured on Aug. 21, 2021 after being shot in the head by Palestinian gunfire. He died nine days later.

Israeli public broadcaster Kan reported that an entry on Shmueli was taken down following a week-long vote, in which 47 editors supported the removal, while 35 were opposed.

A statement on the deleted page reads, “Wikipedia and its editors respect each and every person, and that is why the principles of encyclopedic importance for people have been defined, among them the special and separate relationship to IDF soldiers. It must be remembered that there are many important sites, official and unofficial, that deal with commemorating the IDF fallen. … For example, the commemoration page of Sergeant Barel Hadaria Shmueli at the Yizkor page” — a reference to the official Israeli government memorial site for fallen IDF soldiers.

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Hila Rahimi, Shmueli’s sister, wrote on Facebook following the deletion: “I thought it could not be more painful. Since Barel was killed, I experienced, the whole family experienced, pain in every organ of the body, like a fire. … A hero of Israel, a warrior who risked his life time after time, who was willing to die for the state, is there more of a national symbol than this?”

“We are in deep mourning, a terrible feeling that we live with every day, every minute. Barel was taken from us. Deleted from us,” she wrote. “I do not know who makes these decisions, but whoever voted in favor of erasing his memory, the only thing left to us, should know they spat in our faces.”

One user who voted to delete the page wrote, “Wikipedia is an encyclopedia and not a memorial site. It is not possible to write about every soldier or civilian killed.”

Another user reflected, “Thousands of IDF soldiers were killed in combat operations. I do not see any justification for writing an entry about this particular case.”

A user who opposed the deletion noted that Shmueli’s death garnered significant attention in Israel due to the controversy over how the incident was permitted to occur, and what were widely seen as missteps by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who had recently assumed his office, in his contacts with Shmueli’s family.

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