Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Tuesday morning attacked MK Itamar Ben Gvir’s presence in the Shimon HaTzadik (Sheikh Jarrah) neighborhood and told Reshet Bet radio: “He’s not there to protect Jews, he’s there to ignite fire and violence, he’s a wretched provocateur.” Lapid warned: “Arabs and Jews will die because of this man’s behavior.”
On Monday, before boarding his flight to Bahrain, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated: “We don’t need provocateurs to come and set Sheikh Jarrah on fire for political purposes. … We don’t need [the Joint Arab List’s token Jewish MK] Ofer Cassif or Ben Gvir to run Jerusalem. That’s the job of the Israeli government and not anyone else.”
Well, that’s exactly what Ben Gvir was arguing after local Arabs had set Jewish homes and cars on fire – that the Israeli government is not doing its job in Shimon HaTzadik (perhaps the head of Yamina should stick with the Jewish name of the neighborhood?).
MK Shlomo Karhi (Likud) responded to Lapid’s remarks: “Who is he to preach morality to us when he is in a coalition with the Muslim Brotherhood, and also wants to sit with the Joint Arab List that wants to wipe us off the face of the earth?”
Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t. Ra’am Chairman MK Mansour Abbas—the Muslim Brother in question—has already revealed that in his fourth and final meeting with then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) at his official residence on Balfour Street, he got a commitment from his host not to evict the Arab squatters from Shimon HaTzadik. It was in May (Ramadan, if you’re a Muslim Brother), and Abbas convinced Bibi that an eviction during the war with Hamas in Gaza and the Arabs of the mixed cities in Israel, would be a bad idea. Likud spokespersons should really dial down that talking point.
Ben Gvir, on the other hand, has been straight-forward with his actions and demands: the Jews of Shimon HaTzadik are in danger from their Arab neighbors, the police have been ignoring the arsons and other forms of violence, so he, Ben Gvir, will stay in the neighborhood because when he shows up the police show up, too. On that point, he is all business. On Monday night, he said: “In the last few hours, they have started offering all kinds of proposals from political brokers who are trying to resolve what’s happening here at Shimon HaTzadik.”
Ben Gvir then detailed: “There was a suggestion that security guards from the National Insurance Institute building, about 200 meters from here, will watch the house, but everyone sees that it’s too far away, it’s not serious and not applicable. There was another proposal, by Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon, to cover the place with cameras. I know and respect Leon, but there are a lot of cameras here already and they did not prevent the burning of [Jewish resident Tal Yishuviev’s] vehicle nine times and throwing firebombs at the house three times until the last arson could have led to the family’s murder.”
“There was an offer that I was ashamed to hear, that we would take the family out during Ramadan, and officials would fund alternative housing for them. These are offers of surrender, shameful offers,” the embattled MK said.
Earlier this week, MKs Ben Gvir’s representatives met with Jerusalem District Commander Doron Turgeman in his office to demand that permanent police security be set up at the site. While they were in the commander’s office, hundreds of policemen raided the parliamentary office MK Ben Gvir had established in the Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood. They destroyed it and used violence against the MK and his staff, and expelled them brutally, according to Ben Gvir. The MK was attacked physically attacked during the evacuation and required medical attention at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital.
Following his attack, MK Ben Gvir on Tuesday filed a complaint with the Israel Police equivalent of Internal Affairs. He issued a statement saying: “The police crossed a red line and physically attacked me. There is no place in the police for violent police officers and this is a crime they should be prosecuted for. I expect the DIP (Dept. of Police Investigations) to do its job and prosecute to the full extent of the law these violent police officers, and that the police will learn its lesson.”
Ben Gvir has many enemies in law enforcement, including the top two decision-makers who could have possibly issued the order to beat him up: his arch-nemesis, chief of police Kobi Shabtai, who blamed him for the Arab violence against Jews in the mixed cities; and his other arch-nemesis, Internal Security Minister Omer Barlev. Both represent the worst in Israel’s history of police brutality by design.
Would be a shame if something happened, you know.