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Shin Bet warns Ben Gvir behaviour could lead to ‘broad security confrontation’ with Palestinians

February 16, 2023 at 8:25 pm

Israeli far-right lawmaker and leader of the Otzma Yehudit party Itamar Ben-Gvir, raises an Israeli flag in Safra square in Jerusalem on April 20, 2022 [MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images]

Shin Bet Security Service chief, Ronen Bar, has recently spoken to National Security Minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, and warned him that his crackdown in East Jerusalem could lead to incite further violence, the Israeli Channel 13 reported on Wednesday.

According to the Channel, Bar has in recent days reached out to Ben Gvir, after obtaining permission from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a move described by the channel as “very exceptional”, noting that “the Shin Bet chief does not usually go to ministers”.

“Your activity is creating a feeling of collective harassment. This is agitating [East] Jerusalem and may cause a broad flare-up at this sensitive time,” Bar is reported to have told Ben Gvir.

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For his part, Ben Gvir has responded to Bar’s warnings and retorted that the methods Bar has used in the past did not bring security.

The Channel said the Israeli security services estimate that the security escalation has become inevitable in Occupied Jerusalem and the Occupied West Bank, and the questions raised are about the possible timing of this expected escalation.

According to Israeli reports, Ben Gvir has even clashed with Netanyahu and Israel Police chief, Kobi Shabtai, after they refused his demand to demolish more Palestinian buildings and tighten measures against the Palestinians in Occupied Jerusalem.

During the Israeli cabinet meeting on Sunday, Ben Gvir demanded to demolish a 14-storey building in the town of As-Sawahra, in retaliation for the run-over attack in the Ramot settlement; however, Netanyahu opposed the demand, asking that the reaction to the run-over operation be “moderate”.

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A statement at the end of the meeting said it was decided to reinforce police and border guards in Occupied Jerusalem.

On Tuesday, the Israeli government decided to deploy more police forces and border guard reserve forces in Occupied Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, reports indicated that Shabtai has opposed Ben Gvir’s request to accelerate the demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, due to the lack of sufficient police personnel to protect and secure the demolitions.

In the end, Shabtai complied with Ben Gvir’s request to send more border guards and police forces to Jerusalem and, while Netanyahu fears that Ben Gvir’s actions will provoke international criticism, the latter says that he is “tired of the containment policy”.

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