Bennett Dubs Far-right Lawmaker's Attacks on Shin Bet Chief 'Cowardly, anti-Israel'

Far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir attacks Israel's Shin Bet security service director, an effort Prime Minister Bennett denounced as a 'dangerous political campaign'

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
Far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir attends a march in Jerusalem, last week.
Far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir attends a march in Jerusalem, last week.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

Far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir launched on Friday a campaign against the director of Israel's Shin Bet security service, Ronen Bar.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett condemned the post, which Ben Gvir disseminated via Twitter, saying that "the dangerous political campaign against the Shin Bet and its leader is a cowardly anti-Israel act designed to set the country on fire with fanaticism and chaos."

Ben-Gvir posted a photo of Bar and attacked his leadership over Temple Mount clashes, the terror attacks in Be’er Sheva, Bnei Brak, Hadera and recent rocket fire from Gaza.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said on Twitter that Ben-Gvir, "the convicted felon who Netanyahu wants to appoint as public security minister, marked a new target for his assaults: the Shin Bet chief and his officers. I expect the opposition leader to strongly condemn Ben-Gvir."

Ben-Gvir responded to the prime minister's condemnation on Twitter, writing that if Bennett was a "real prime minister," he would have reprimanded the Shin Bet for "briefing journalists against me and saying I was an explosive that needed to be neutralized."

Bennett also attributed the campaign to far-right lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich. Smotrich's Religious Zionism party however said in response that the lawmaker has never spoken against the Shin Bet chief and that he "appreciates the war the organization and its chief are conducting against Islamic terrorism." The party added that when Smotrich does criticize the security establishment, he does so "in relevant discussions behind closed doors."

Still, the party went on to attack Bennett, saying he is "the only one responsible for the loss of sovereignty in the Negev, in mixed cities, and for the flying of Hamas and Palestine flags at the Temple Mount." The party also said that Bennett's actions in recent weeks have been "hysteric, fearful and accusatory."

Last week, Bennett ordered Ben-Gvir be kept away from Damascus Gate, the main gathering point for Muslims during Ramadan, during a right-wing march around the Old City of Jerusalem, which took place over Passover.

According to Bennett's announcement, the decision was made based on the advisement of Shin Bet director Bar, Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev and Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai.

At the time, police were concerned that in light of recent clashes in Jerusalem, holding the march would lead to a wave of violence that could spill over to other cities. Police did not approve the march.

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