Minister of Homeland Security Amir Ohana (Likud) replied on Wednesday in the Knesset Plenum to a parliamentary question by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionism) on forming a commission of inquiry to examine police conduct during the riots in the mixed cities several weeks ago, and also replied to a parliamentary question by MK Yosef Taieb (Shas) regarding the campaign to collect illegal weapons, which are possessed by and large by Israeli Arabs.
Minister Ohana described the actions taken by police Operation Law and Order, saying: “These intensive and powerful actions significantly improved the response provided to the citizens—which I unequivocally agree was unsuitable at the start of the riots—and significantly improved the personal security of the residents of the mixed cities.”
The operation has not ended, Ohana continued, suggesting that “even if the flames are not burning with the same intensity, the embers are still glowing, and there’s a need for a thick blanket—in terms of personnel, equipment, technology, intelligence, and also responsiveness by the justice system to remand requests and severe punishments in the cases that come before it—to smother the fire and lower the flames.”
Perhaps extinguishing the flames is a bit too much to expect.
“There has been very significant activity—not only now in Operation Law and Order, but also beforehand, but all the more so in this operation—because we saw a live demonstration of what we said all along, that these weapons would not only serve for criminal purposes but would also serve for nationalist crime. We saw that some of the Arab citizens of Israel turned these weapons against Jews, against police officers, against civilians.”
In the course of his reply, Minister Ohana expressed disapproval of statements made by MK Smotrich against Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Kobi Shabtai, noting that he had criticized the latter’s statement that he was “serving as a buffer between the quarreling sides,” which gave the impression of symmetry between Arab and Jewish rioters.
Ohana said: “They tried to set five synagogues on fire in Lod but no one set fire to a mosque; they lynched Jewish citizens and shot Jewish citizens.”
MK Ibtisam Mara’ana (Labor) accused Minister Ohana of incitement, saying that an Arab citizen had been murdered in Lod. Minister Ohana replied, referring to Lod Jews: “They’re defending themselves, and that’s a good thing.”
It should be noted that the shooter of the Lod Arab, who reportedly was hurling a Molotov cocktail during the shooting, is being charged with negligent homicide.
MK Smotrich responded angrily, saying: “It’s a shame that 1,000 terrorists weren’t killed.”
Them’s fighting words.