Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir on Friday slammed the decision to return the bodies of three Hamas terrorists to the Palestinian Authority and to return the Jordanian arms smuggler back to Jordan, and vowed to continue boycotting cabinet meetings and Knesset votes until the governing coalition assumes a more hardline approach.
Israeli forces on Thursday eliminated the terrorists who last month murdered three members of the Dee family in the Jordan Valley. Lucy Dee, 48, and daughters Maia, 20, and Rina, 15, were killed in an April 7 shooting on the Route 57 highway near the Hamra Junction.
The terrorists, identified as Hamas members Hassan Katnani and Muad Masri, were shot dead in an exchange of fire after Israeli forces surrounded their hideout in Nablus’s Kasbah (Old City). Ibrahim Hura, identified by the IDF as a collaborator with the Hamas terrorists, was also killed in the raid.
Ben-Gvir described Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s decision to return the three bodies as “a grave mistake that will cost us dearly,” and called for a change in approach.
“It is not too late to implement a powerful and offensive security policy. Otzma Yehudit will continue to be absent from [Knesset] votes until the Israeli government changes course and begins to uphold the policy for which it was elected,” said Ben-Gvir.
ההחלטה של שר הביטחון גלנט להחזיר את גופות המחבלים חברי ארגון הטרור גוב האריות, היא טעות חמורה שתעלה לנו ביוקר. עדיין לא מאוחר להוביל מדיניות ביטחונית עוצמתית והתקפית. עוצמה יהודית תמשיך להיעדר מההצבעות עד אשר ממשלת ישראל תשנה כיוון ותתחיל לקיים את המדיניות שלשמה היא נבחרה.
— איתמר בן גביר (@itamarbengvir) May 5, 2023
In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party issued a statement reiterating that “the prime minister, defense minister, the IDF and the security forces are the ones who manage the complex security events facing the State of Israel. The prime minister decides which parties are involved in the discussions, and if this is not acceptable to Minister Ben-Gvir, he does not have to remain in the government.”
A senior source close to Netanyahu shortly thereafter told Israeli media that the premier is willing to explore bringing into the coalition National Unity Party head Benny Gantz.
Last week’s rocket barrage from the Gaza Strip sparked the intra-coalition fighting, with Ben-Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit announcing that the party’s MKs would boycott coalition votes after he wasn’t invited to a situational assessment meeting during the conflagration.
Ben-Gvir told reporters at the time: “Prime Minister [Netanyahu], if you don’t want Otzma Yehudit, you’re invited to fire us. If you don’t want a fully right-wing government, you’re welcome to send us home.”