Kobi Shabtai blamed a relatively minor right-wing politician for the Israeli-Arab unrest in many cities throughout the country.
By World Israel News Staff
Israel’s Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai blamed right-wing politician Itamar Ben-Gvir of the Religious Zionism party as “the person responsible for this intifada,” on Thursday. Shabtai has received blowback since for the remarkable claim given Arabs began to riot before Ben-Gvir took any action.
Yehuda Shlezinger, columnist for Israel Hayom, tweeted on Saturday night, “I forgot my galareta [a traditional Ashkenazic dish] and left it out of the fridge and it melted completely. Expect Ben Gvir to take responsibility and resign.”
Among the replies: “And I broke the tip of a toothpick in my tooth. Let Ben-Gvir be sent to me.”
Another said: “Shame, what do you care about your galareta. There are hungry in Africa because of him!!”
Some replies focused on the galareta, a sweetened gelatin made with calves’ feet: “And who will take responsibility for the fact that galarata was there in the first place?”
“You have to thank Ben-Gvir. You survived a severe poisoning,” tweeted another.
From the replies, it became clear that very few took Shabtai’s accusations seriously.
Shabtai made his remarks to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a situation assessment in Lod, a mixed Arab-Jewish city that saw the first of Israeli-Arab rioting, which has spread to other heavily Arab cities. Arabs have targeted their Jewish neighbors, setting fire to cars and to synagogues, and roamed the streets in gangs searching for Jews to attack.
“The person responsible for this intifada is Itamar Ben-Gvir. It started with a demonstration of Lehava [a far-right Jewish group] at the Damascus Gate,” Shabtai said.
A Lehava demonstration did take place at the Damascus Gate on April 20, a week after the Arab rioting began.
Arabs in Jerusalem have not blamed Ben-Gvir for their rioting. They say they did so because police barricaded steps outside the Damascus Gate to prevent worshippers from congregating during Ramadan.
“He continued the provocation in Sheikh Jarrah, and now he is walking around with Lehava in the cities. Yesterday, we managed to calm Acre and he arrived with activists on the bus and caused unrest. The police have no tools to deal with him,” Shabtai said.
Ben-Gvir said Shabtai’s attack was merely a personal attack on him due to the fact that he called for the police chief to be fired for failing to stem the riots. “I called for the dismissal of the commissioner and therefore they are carrying out briefings against me. It will not shut me up. The commissioner should go home,” Ben-Gvir said.
Ben-Gvir repeated his call for the commissioner’s firing in a Friday tweet.
Israel has seen a wave of violence – overwhelmingly by Arabs against Jews – since the start of the operation against the Gaza Strip, sparked by a rocket attack on Jerusalem on Monday. Hamas blamed their attack on Israeli Border Police entering the Temple Mount plaza to push back Arab rioters. Arabs have been rioting in Jerusalem since the start of Ramadan on April 13.
Israeli authorities worry that the violence will spread. Late this week, Arabs in Judea and Samaria rioted for the first time since the start of the Gaza operation.