Editorial

Israel's Public Security Minister Cannot Continue in His Post

Gilad Erdan makes allegations against Arab citizens without any proof. He's leading an incitement campaign.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan
Ilan Assayag

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan cannot continue in his post. In recent days, Erdan and Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich have been running a vile propaganda campaign based on lies and unproved assertions regarding the events in Umm al-Hiran – where a Bedouin Israeli was killed by police.

This isn’t the first time Erdan has exploited his position and the police to stoke hatred against Arab citizens simply to be more popular in his Likud party. Such a tactic makes him unworthy to serve as the minister in charge of the police.

Erdan and Alsheich have slandered the Bedouin community and have vilified, with no proof, Yakub Abu al-Kiyan, a teacher who was killed during the demolition of his home in Umm al-Hiran. The dust still hadn’t cleared over the killing and the demolition, yet Erdan and Alsheich rushed to launch a smear campaign.

With the help of the police spokesman’s office, the two declared that the killing of policeman Erez Levi was a deliberate car-ramming attack, even though at the time they still had no idea what actually had happened. Erdan hastened to call Abu al-Kiyan a terrorist; Alsheich opted for “despicable terrorist.” Erdan also hinted that Abu al-Kiyan had been a member of the Islamic State. Neither waited for an investigation before delivering a verdict publicly.

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich during a session of the Knesset Interior and Environment Committee.
Emil Salman

Abu al-Kiyan’s autopsy showed that he had been hit by two bullets, one in the knee, which could explain why he lost control of his vehicle. It also emerged that he bled to death over 20 minutes – without being offered medical treatment as required. The suspicion is that Abu al-Kiyan was shot before he ran over Levi, so it’s possible the “terrorist” was actually a victim.

This didn’t stop Erdan from excoriating Arab Knesset members. “This blood is on your hands,” the incitement minister tweeted. He did something similar after the wave of fires two months ago. The fires hadn’t even been brought under control when Erdan was declaring that arson was the cause.  

After the police arrested 35 suspects, the minister said that most of them were linked to the fires in one way or another. “The terror we’re facing is a new type . Incitement leads people to go and torch whole places with people.”

To rouse passions even further, Erdan called for the homes of the “arsonists” to be demolished. Since then, everyone arrested has been released, the arson-wave theory has been totally refuted, and only Erdan’s incitement campaign remains.

It’s intolerable that a person in such a sensitive position during such a volatile period should be an agent of incitement and hate propaganda. It hasn’t even occurred to Erdan to retract his allegations and apologize. In such a situation, he is no longer worthy to remain in his post.