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Israel Police slam national security minister over ‘interference’

March 17, 2023 at 8:58 am

Israeli Police Commissioner Yaakov Kobi Shabtai (R) is seen near the Damascus Gate of the old city of Jerusalem [AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images]

Israeli Police Chief Yaakov Shabtai criticised National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, for interfering in police work.

“Ben-Gvir interferes in police work, and instructs our low-ranking officers to demolish several homes,” Shabtai said in a statement he submitted to the Supreme Court.

Shabtai said that Ben-Gvir had contacted a number of senior police officers during Thursday’s protests against the government’s bill to change the judicial system.

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Israel has, for two months, been witnessing escalating protests against planned judiciary reforms that were proposed by the far-right Likud coalition, and would limit the powers of the Supreme Court and control the appointment of judges.

The Israeli Supreme Court was recently reported to have been considering petitions filed by local human rights organisations against Ben-Gvir’s appointment to a ministerial post. The court is yet to reveal a date for deciding on the petitions.

Coalition member Ben-Gvir lives in an illegal settlement in the occupied city of Hebron and regularly makes anti-Palestinian remarks. He recently ordered the police to demolish Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem during the holy month of Ramadan.

Israeli media recently quoted the government’s legal adviser, Ghali Behrav Mayara, as saying that there were “fears that Ben-Gvir might exceed the limits of his powers or attempt to interfere with the independent professional considerations of police commanders on the field.”

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